Hong Kong-based alternative investment manager Pacific Alliance Group (PAG) has continued its expansion with the naming of TPG veteran Shan Weijian as group chairman and chief executive.

Chris Gradel, who co-founded PAG in 2002, will take up a newly created role as chief investment officer of the hedge fund and distressed business, which has always been his main focus at the company.

A spokeswoman says the plan is to enable the $5 billion firm to build a bigger scale platform and increase its focus on the three strands of the business -- private equity, real estate and hedge funds/distressed assets.

Shan will join on July 1 with his central focus being on private equity, while Patrick Boot remains Shanghai-based managing director of the group's property business.

Shan will bring with him "significant capital commitments" that will enable him and his team to make investments of any size in the buyout market upon his arrival at PAG, says the firm. He will also lead the effort to raise a new Asia-focused private equity fund focused on large-size buyouts, structured transactions and strategic block investments.

He will maintain a business relationship with TPG, the private investment firm where he has worked since 1998. Under the arrangement, TPG will have certain rights to participate in co-investment and co-sponsorship opportunities, and Shan will continue to serve as an adviser to a number of TPG portfolio companies.

"I originally planned to start my own fund rooted in and committed to Asia," he says, "but having subsequently come to know the founders of PAG and their investment platform, I decided instead to partner with them to grow a best-in-class private equity franchise. I am also pleased to have the continued support of TPG in my new venture."

Gradel says of Shan's appointment: "We genuinely believe that we are at an inflection point for the alternative investment industry in Asia, with local firms now able to attract the very best in the industry. This partnership forms a key part of our plan to develop into a leading institutional platform in the region."

The changes follow several other senior hires this year. David Kim joined PAG in Hong Kong in March in a newly created post as chief operating officer of the private equity business. He now reports to Shan. Kim was formerly head of the Asia financial institutions group at Nomura International (and previously at Lehman Brothers) in Hong Kong and has worked with Shan as an adviser on a number of transactions for over a decade.

Meanwhile, Wei Song joined Pacific Alliance Real Estate in March from Equity International as a managing director in Shanghai. And Wei's appointment follows other moves to expand last year, including the opening of a Japan office in mid-2009 and the bolstering of the distressed-debt team in Hong Kong in the third quarter.

PAG has offices in Beijing and Tokyo, as well as in Hong Kong and Shanghai.