UK asset manager Threadneedle has hired a trio of Merrill Lynch veterans to drive regional expansion, including Andrew Chan as Asia-Pacific head of product and business development.

Chan will oversee the development and delivery of client-focused product and service solutions across Asia. He reports to Asia-Pacific chairman Raymundo Yu and is based in Singapore.

Supporting him, the firm recently hired Tony Poon and Harry Tan as heads of client service and business managers for North Asia and South Asia, respectively. They provide business development, management and operational support for wholesale and institutional clients. They also have local regulatory responsibilities.

Threadneedle has been busy hiring as it strives to expand in Asia, including the opportunistic capture of Yu as its Asia-Pacific chairman, in news broken by AsianInvestor last November.

Yu had come out of retirement for the role, having previously served as regional chairman at Merrill Lynch. He has been bolstering the Threadneedle team, in many cases with ex-Merrill staff. Collectively Chan, Poon and Tan worked at Merrill Lynch for 76 years.

William Lowndes resigned from Threadneedle recently as its head of Asian distribution, having only relocated from London to Hong Kong in April last year. It is understood Lowndes no longer felt there was an appropriate role for him at the firm, where he had worked for 12 years.

Previously Lowndes has said he expected to build up Threadneedle’s Asian distribution capability, ultimately to match its 35-strong team in continental Europe.

But a spokesman for Threadneedle said Chan was not a replacement for Lowndes, who had sales functions reporting in to him. "This is a new role," the spokesman tells AsianInvestor. "He will work closely with Raymundo Yu and [senior adviser] Albert Lee in developing the strategy for the region.

"Threadneedle will continue to hire experienced and high-quality people to drive the business in its key markets of Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan and to develop other markets around the region over time."

Chan spent 24 years at Merrill Lynch in a variety of business management, development, product and marketing roles, predominantly in the private banking and private wealth management business. When he retired in 2009 he was managing director and chief administrative office of global wealth management for the Pacific Rim.

Poon also spent 24 years at Merrill Lynch, again in various managerial positions in the company’s global wealth management group and as business manager for North Asia.

Tan worked at Merrill for 28 years from 1980 to 2008, when he retired. He was head of Asia-Pacific financial advisory services managing a team of investment consultants located in Singapore and Hong Kong, providing wealth management services to core affluent clients.

Recent additions at Threadneedle include Lee as a senior adviser, based in Hong Kong. He had been country CEO and chairman at Merrill Lynch Securities in Taiwan for two years to July 2009. Prior to that, he was managing director and business head for Merrill Lynch’s global private client business in Asia-Pacific.

In December last year Threadneedle announced the appointment of Michael Langlois from Permal Group as its head of wholesale distribution Asia, effective from January 1 this year. He is tasked with building relationships with local financial institutions and global private banks in the region. Langlois worked under Yu at Merrill Lynch before he joined Permal.