Tremont Capital Management, which manages $8 billion of funds of hedge funds from its headquarters outside of New York City and an office in London, is extending its business to Asia.

A division of Oppenheimer Funds, itself owned by MassMutual, Tremont is best known in Asia for the index of hedge fund managers it runs in conjunction with Credit Suisse.

The company was founded in 1984 as an advisor for hedge funds and their institutional clients, but in the past few years it has transitioned into the more lucrative funds-of-funds business. It continues to own and manage the database for the Tremont/CS index but this is no longer its core business.

The firm has appointed Lavin Mok to serve as managing director for its Asia business. Mok is already MD for Oppenheimer FundsÆ Hong Kong office, a role he will continue. But most of his time will be dedicated to Tremont, as the Oppenheimer business is established, with a coterie of wholesale distributors in place.

Unlike the Oppenheimer Funds business, TremontÆs clients are institutions, private banks and high-net worth individuals. The firm is therefore not registering its products in Asia except under SingaporeÆs liberal ærestricted investment schemeÆ for wealthy investors.

Instead, Mok will focus on developing private channels in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan; Japan will continue to be serviced from London. The firm has already built up an infrastructure in the region and obtained an investment license from the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission under Billy Cheung; Cheung left the firm this summer for UBS Global Asset Management.

Mok is joined by Sarah Callaghan, who arrived a few months ago from London, where she built a career at funds of hedge funds. She will concentrate on sales. Mok will participate in sales but also have responsibility for running the office.

Tremont has managed funds of funds for a decade, mainly core, multi-strategy portfolios. Now it is rolling out single-strategy products, to reflect the growing sophistication of clients. Mok declined to go into details but says the firmÆs opportunity is to offer more diverse exposures than the typical long/short equity that dominates the Asia hedge-fund scene.

The firmÆs investment managers will remain in New York and London. The London office was opened five years ago and today is a fully functioning post, complete with fund managers, IT, operations, compliance and so on. ôOur long-term plan for Hong Kong is to become like our business in London and offer a full service,ö Mok says.

He says the Asian market remains less competitive than America or Europe, and the markets here offer hedge fund managers more ways to make money. He believes new strategies will continue to emerge and develop in the region, giving funds of funds new ways to create portfolios.