UBS Global Asset Management has hired a new chief executive for Japan, Keiichi Miki, previously head of Lazard Asset Management’s Japanese business.

He is due to start next Monday, February 3, replacing Susumu Okamura, who left the firm in July to pursue an opportunity outside the funds industry. He had been with UBS since November 2008.

Miki will report to Kai Sotorp, Asia-Pacific head of UBS Global AM, who says: “Keiichi is an investor by training and is also experienced on the distribution side.”

To replace him, Lazard brought in Yugo Ishida in January, who previously spent 35 years at Nomura Asset Management in a variety of positions, including president and COO.

Miki had been with Lazard since March 2010, before which he served as Japan head of JP Morgan Asset Management for eight years. For 16 years prior to that, he was a portfolio manager of Japanese equities at Jardine Fleming Investment Advisors in Tokyo and Hambro Pacific Fund Management in Hong Kong.

Asked whether UBS Global AM has seen more inflows or has product launches planned, in light of the recent revival in Japanese equities, Sotorp said: “Yes. We don’t want to be specific, but there has been a notable uptick in investor interest and demand over the past year and we have responded in kind.”

One major area of focus for the firm is building out its property investment capabilities in Japan, as well as elsewhere in Asia Pacific, notably Australia and China. Sotorp says the aim is to source Asian real estate assets for both regional and global investors.

He highlights UBS’s joint venture in Japan with Mitsubishi Corporation, its Chinese JV with Shenzhen-based real estate developer Gemdale and its recently struck partnership with Grocon to buy Australian office properties.

There are plans to “flesh out” the teams across those three markets, says Sotorp, as they are markets with “good institutional characteristics, good breadth and depth”. He declined to give more detail.

Meanwhile, UBS Global AM received a renminbi qualified foreign institutional investor (RQFII) licence in December, allowing it to invest into Chinese assets using offshore RMB. But it does not have any current plans to set up Hong Kong-domiciled funds with a view to benefiting from the proposed China-HK mutual recognition scheme.

In the year to September 2013, UBS Global AM saw a 10.27% rise to $136.4 billion in assets under management sourced from Asia Pacific. This represented significantly faster growth than its global AUM, which grew to $649.3 billion from $633.3 billion over the same period.