Bank of Montreal launches Asia private banking
Bank of Montreal (BMO) has moved to establish an Asian private banking business and hired Robert Cormie from Canadian rival CIBC as regional vice-president.

Together with Cormie, who was Asia managing director of CIBC’s private banking arm, CIBC’s Hong Kong and Singapore-based wealth management teams including relationship managers and support have transferred to BMO.

Based in Hong Kong, Cormie and his team joined on January 27. He reports to Alexandra Dousmanis-Curtis and Albert Yu, head of the private banking division and Asia CEO for BMO Financial Group, respectively.

The move en masse comes after media speculation that BMO had acquired CIBC. It follows comments from BMO chief William Downe last year when he mentioned “an agreement to acquire and establish [a] private banking business with a presence in Hong Kong and Singapore”.

A spokesperson for BMO declined to comment on the speculation.

A CIBC spokesman also declined to comment. In its third quarter 2012 results, CIBC said that it had “entered into a definitive agreement in the second quarter to sell our standalone Hong Kong and Singapore-based private wealth management business.” CIBC’s private banking business had $2 billion in AUM as at July last year.

A CIBC representative was quoted by Dow Jones early last year as saying that its near-term focus was on expanding its asset management capabilities in global equities, fixed income and alternatives.

Other Canadian banks have been aggressively expanding in Asia Pacific, with RBC recently underlining plans to more than double its AUM in Asia to $25 billion, from $11 billion, in three years, Simon Ng, the firm’s head of wealth management and trust in Hong Kong, has told AsianInvestor.

CIBC has been in Asia Pacific for more than 25 years. It has 200 staff in the region and offices in Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and a rep office in Beijing.

Pictet AM adds trading support in HK
Pictet Asset Management is in the process of transferring two active equity traders from Singapore to Hong Kong, AsianInvestor can confirm.

David Clark relocated at the start of January, while Jeremy Kirkman is set to join him shortly, says the firm’s Hong Kong-based managing director Amy Cho.

The firm moved towards the end of last year to establish an investment team in Hong Kong to cover Greater China equities, and Cho indicates that the two traders have been moved to better support the team.

“Since we have an equity investment management presence via the Hong Kong office (Greater China equity), we decided to relocate the equity traders,” she notes.

Greater China equity is not a new strategy for Pictet. It was previously being managed by fund manager Lan Wang Simond out of Europe.

But portfolio management has now been handed to its Hong Kong-based Greater China team, which is being led by Pauline Dan, former CIO at Samsung Investment Management (HK).

Senior investment manager David Chen joined this team in the second half of last year, having joined from Amundi Asset Management (HK).

AsianInvestor understands that Pictet AM is now searching for additional research analyst support. The firm had $139.8 billion in AUM globally as end-September 2012, of which $17.4 billion (12.4%) was sourced from Asia Pacific, by AsianInvestor numbers.

Aviva taps AIA veteran for Asia CEO role
British insurer Aviva announced the appointment of Khor Hock Seng from AIA as chief executive of Aviva Asia, reporting to group CEO Mark Wilson.

Subject to regulatory approval, Khor will begin his Singapore-based role on March 8 to oversee Aviva’s insurance businesses in eight Asian markets: India, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia and Vietnam.

The group’s asset management arm, Aviva Investors, will not fall under his remit since it is a separate business with separate management.

Khor will take on outgoing CEO Simon Machell responsibilities for Asian high-growth markets. Machell is set to leave Aviva at the end of February.

Previously Khor was CEO of AIA’s Malaysian business and regional executive overseeing a number of Southeast Asian markets.

He exited following a leadership change at AIA Malaysia, with Bill Lisle appointed as Malaysia CEO this month. Lisle will lead the integration of AIA with ING’s Malaysian insurance business, which was announced in October last year.

ICI Global names new committee chairman
Lobby group ICI Global has announced the appointment of Robert Higginbotham as chairman of its global steering committee.

Based in London, Higginbotham will carry out his duties in conjunction with his role as head of global investment services at fund manager T. Rowe Price, where he is responsible for institutional and intermediary distribution in Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Higginbotham succeeds as chairman Jamie Broderick, who currently serves as wealth management CEO for UBS in the UK and Jersey.

ICI Global focuses on regulatory and financial market issues on behalf of fund managers and investors. Founded in 2011, it claims to be the first industry body promoting the perspective of globally active funds.

Hua An Asset Management and China Asset Management (Hong Kong) are among the 32 international asset managers listed as members.

The group has set up an Asia-Pacific chapter, which recently held its first meetings in Hong Kong and Sydney. IGI Global has made six trips to Asia to meet regulators and members since its founding. It is staging a retirement savings conference in Hong Kong this June.

Other people moves reported by AsianInvestor in the past week:

Old Mutual AM creates head of institutional sales role

Credit Agricole unveils Asia leadership changes

BlackRock adds North Asia head of alternatives