Allco Finance Group, an Australian investment house, is hoping to bolster its Asia presence by bringing in Hong Kong veteran David Turnbull to run its regional operations. The former Swire executive takes on the role of chairman, Allco Group Asia, and will drive the business from the firm's recently established Hong Kong offices.

He joins Daivd Lowe, director, Allco Finance, who rejoined the firm in 2005 to coordinate its Greater China expansion plans. Turnbull will officially report for duty on March 20.

During his 30 years with Swire, Turnbull rose to the position of chairman, which also included the tandem roles of chairman of Cathay Pacific Airways, chairman of John Swire & Sons and director of Swire Properties. He remains non-executive chairman of Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company following his resignation in November of last year.

Prior to these roles, Turnbull held a wide variety of posts in the Hong Kong-based conglomerate, including running one of its Australian shipping divisions.

According to Allco, the appointment of Turnbull relates directly to its next phase of development in Asia and will come as a huge benefit to its primary business specializations of asset-backed financing in shipping, retail, aviation, property and small ticket leasing. The company also plans to explore investment opportunities in ChinaÆs infrastructure sector, including aircraft financing deals and has recently invested a new fund known as the CITIC Allco Investment Limited.

Since its establishment in 1979, the privately owned Australian investment bank has arranged finance for assets in excess of $55 billion, financed more than 60 narrow and wide-body aircraft worldwide, financed passenger, freight and light rail assets in Australia and Europe and financed 89 shipping vessels. As of October 2005, Allco also managed equity investment funds, through its subsidiaries, with a total asset value of over $4.5 billion.

The announcement comes on the back of the merger between Allco Finance Group and Record Investments Limited, an Australian investment company. Following the announcement on March 6, the financial services group will look to expand its regional land, aviation and shipping portfolio. Turnbull will also join the board of the directors of the merged entity, along with Rod Eddington, former managing director of Cathay Pacific and CEO of British Airways.

TurnbullÆs appointment comes as Allco bulks up its regional presence, which will include more hires in its Hong Kong offices going forward.