Coutts names new Asia GM
UK-based private bank Coutts, the wealth division of RBS, announced the appointment of Michael Blake as general manager for Asia, replacing outgoing Asia chief Nick Pollard.

Once Blake receives regulatory approval for the role, he will be expected to travel between the group’s Singaporean and Hong Kong office to oversee all components of the business and improve connectivity with its UK and Swiss hubs.

In the meantime, he remains chief of staff for the wealth division based in London.

Blake will be flanked by two regional market heads – Ranjit Khanna as head of Southeast Asia based in Singapore, and Iggy Chong, market head for Hong Kong (who was previously North Asia head).

Both will work with Ken Sue, head of products and services for Asia. It comes after Manfred Liechti departed earlier this year on the back of a restructuring exercise.

Blake reports to Alex Classen, chief executive of Coutts International. Blake’s appointment marks his return to Asia, having previously worked as head of the Asia-Pacific management office at UBS in Hong Kong until 2010.

Pollard, who recently completed his three-year assignment as Asia CEO, is expected to take on a new Asia-based role to be announced shortly. Pollard endured the resignation of scores of staff and oversaw the subsequent rebuilding process when he started as Asia chief in 2009.

SFC names Carlson as incoming chairman
Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has welcomed the appointment of Carlson Tong as its new chairman, with effect from October 20.

Tong is currently a non-executive director at the SFC, having retired from KPMG as Asia-Pacific chairman last year. He will replace Eddy Fong, who has chaired the securities regulator for the past six years and is now set to retire on October 19.

SFC chief executive Ashley Alder welcomed Tong’s appointment, suggesting the regulator would benefit from his “vast experience of the activities and markets we regulate”.

Replacing Tong as a non-executive chairman will be Kelvin Wong Tin-yau, also with effect from October 20.

The retiring Fong, formerly a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, had been appointed as the SFC’s first non-executive chairman on October 20, 2006.

He reflects on his time with the regulator as challenging. “The global financial crisis in 2008 was an invaluable experience and being part of the SFC as it unfolded has made my learning curve much more challenging and fascinating.”

SSgA hires Pang to ETF team
State Street Global Advisors announced it had hired Jacqueline Pang as the Asia Pacific head of capital markets for its SPDR ETFs. She started in her Hong Kong-based role in early September.

Pang is responsible for driving the global capital market group’s activity, with a focus on improving liquidity and market quality in SPDR ETFs across the Asia region.

Based in Hong Kong, she reports to Timothy Coyne, head of ETF global capital markets, as well as Frank Henze, Asia-Pacific head of ETFs.

She comes in to replace Todd Themistocles, who has moved to San Francisco with SSgA to cover ETF sales to hedge funds, according to a spokeswoman.

Prior to joining, Pang ran the capital markets business at Amundi Investment Solutions. She has also worked as a product specialist for hedge funds at Amundi Alternative Investment in France. She began her career in Singapore at brokerage Icap.

State Street Global Advisors managed some $300 billion in ETF assets worldwide as at June 30, of which $16.3 billion (5.4%) is sourced from Asia Pacific.

Amundi anoints Hong Kong CEO
French asset manager Amundi has named Zhong Xiaofeng as its new chief executive for Hong Kong and North Asia (ex-Japan).

Based in Hong Kong from September 1, he succeeds Thierry Mequillet, who has been switched to senior executive officer for Asian joint ventures to foster relations with partners. The firm currently has JVs with State Bank of India, NongHyup in Korea and Agricultural Bank of China.

Zhong’s job is to promote the firm to institutional clients and third-party distributors in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. He also oversees management of Asian equity and Asian balanced business. Ayaz Ebrahim, CIO for Asia ex-Japan equities, is expected to report to him.

Zhong joined Amundi last November from the investment banking arm of Crédit Agricole, where most recently he worked as managing director for the group’s Beijing subsidiary. He has also had positions within the bank in France.

His appointment comes ahead of Amundi celebrating its 30th anniversary in Hong Kong this November. It is 75% owned by Crédit Agricole, with Société Générale owning the remainder.

Fullerton hires Chudleigh from Vanguard
Temasek subsidiary Fullerton Fund Management has hired Trevor Chudleigh from Vanguard Investments as its new head of business development, effective from October 1.

Based in Singapore, Chudleigh will be responsible for growing Fullerton's business and deepening client relationships in existing and new markets,

He comes in to replace Choy Peng Wah, who has returned to Harvest Global Investments and now works there as CEO.

Chudleigh will report to Fullerton CEO Manraj Sekhon. Most recently, he was at Vanguard Investments, where he oversaw growth in its Asia and Japan business. He began his career at the now-defunct investment bank County NatWest.

Fullerton was set up in 2003 as an investment specialist to offer relative and absolute-return products and now boasts S$10 billion ($8.1 billion) in AUM. Previously it was the in-house fund division of Singapore sovereign fund Temasek.

Equities CIO Singhai joins Lazard AM
Lazard Asset Management has appointed Manish Singhai from Aviva Investors as its new Asia equities CIO based in Singapore, AsianInvestor understands.

Singhai started at the Sydney-headquartered firm as a managing director in July. Previously he spent a year-and-a-half as regional equities CIO for Aviva Investors Asia, based in Singapore.

A spokesperson for Aviva Investors confirms that Singhai left the firm at the end of April, and his responsibilities had passed to Yap Khek Heng, who now heads its Asian equities team.

Yap joined Aviva Investors as a senior vice-president in January last year and had been instrumental in setting up the Asian equities desk with Singhai. Yap was formerly with hedge fund Newsmith Capital, and has also worked at Wellington Asset Management and AllianceBernstein.

Singhai founded Arjava Capital in July 2008 and had also worked at AllianceBernstein for 10 years, five as CIO for Asia ex-Japan.

A spokesperson for Lazard declined to comment for this article. The firm had $19.2 billion in Asia-Pacific-sourced assets as at the end of last year, out of a global AUM of $122 billion, by AsianInvestor numbers.

UBS losing staff in real estate securities
Swiss bank UBS has seen several departures from its real estate securities business globally, with Jason Lai the latest to exit in Asia, AsianInvestor understands.

Lai had been covering Asian real estate securities out of Hong Kong reporting to global head Mark Thorpe-Apps, but quit this month. “That means they have no one covering Asian real estate securities in Hong Kong, but incredibly they have someone covering US real estate,” says a source.

Further, junior staffer Dane Garrood is also understood to have quit this month in Hong Kong, while Karena Fung left the Asia real estate securities team in February this year.

The global head of business development for real estate at UBS Global Asset Management, Andreas Mondovits, quit earlier this year.

Lai joined UBS in December 2007. He had spent the previous three years at Baring Asset Management in London, having begun his career with State Street Global Advisors.

A spokesperson for UBS Asset Management based in Hong Kong declined to comment.

UBS Global Asset Management had $599 billion in invested assets as at June 30 this year, of which $111 billion (19%) was sourced from Asia Pacific, by AsianInvestor numbers.

Newedge adds trio from Natixis
Agency-broker Newedge has hired three executives from Natixis for its Hong Kong and Shanghai metals desk in a drive to increase metals broking volume from Chinese corporates.

Alan Burr joins as head of trading for Asia; Andy Ko as associate director of trading; and Wendy Law as Asia sales head. The trio all previously worked at French bank Natixis.

Law will be targeting Chinese agricultural and metals producers with demand for hedging on commodity exchanges both onshore and offshore.

It comes after media reports that Newedge, a joint venture between Crédit Agricole and Société Générale, suffered a raft of departures earlier this year from its metals team globally to US investment bank Jefferies.

These include Bill Sexton, head of Newedge in the US; Mike Frawley, head of its global metals team; and two senior metals dealers, reports the Financial Times. Frawley and at least one of the metals specialists quit for Jefferies.

But John Fay, Newedge’s global head of fixed income, currencies and commodities, states that the agency-broker is planning to grow its market share by raising trading volume on the LME to 25%, from 16% currently.

He says the Chinese market should help it achieve its growth potential, with over two-thirds of its business in metals and agriculture done electronically. However, he did not give a time-frame. “Chinese traders like to do their own trades electronically, while using voice traders to trade more complicated or larger trades,” Fay adds.

In China, Newedge is one of the few foreign firms that has gained clearing membership on the Shanghai Futures Exchange, joining others such as JP Morgan, HSBC (China) and ANZ (China) among the exchange’s 391 clearing members.

BNPP transfers Emea cash equity business
BNP Paribas transferred Lee Cook from London to Hong Kong in the newly created role as head of cash equity for Asia Pacific and emerging markets for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He began this month.

Cook had been head of emerging markets cash equities based in London and was responsible for building the bank’s capabilities in Turkey and South Africa.

In Hong Kong, he is expected to continue develop its global emerging markets cash equity products, while also reinforcing the existing Asian cash equity business. He reports to Pierre Rousseau, head of global equities and commodity derivatives in Asia Pacific.

Cook joined BNPP in September 2010 and was previously at JP Morgan, where he ran the EMEA cash equity business from 2003.

Paul Hastings approved for Korea office
Law firm Paul Hastings announced it had received ministerial approval to open an office in Seoul and has filed for registration with the Korean Bar Association.

It will join rival Clifford Chance in the country, which received approval to open its practice in Korea in July. Korea recently opened its doors to allow foreign law firms to practice there.

Kim Jong-Han has been appointed chair of the Seoul office and will be joined by partner Daniel Kim, who will relocate. The two will be supported by a team of associates and counsel.

Paul Hastings has been in the Korean market for over 25 years, advising Korean and international clients in practices across cross-border M&A, joint ventures, global capital markets and cross-border litigation.

Mourant Ozannes targets expansion
Offshore law firm Mourant Ozannes announced it had hired new partners at its British Virgin Islands base on the back of demand from Asian clients.

Michael Williams has been transferred from the Channel Islands to its BVI office alongside recently hired partners Rachel McDonald and Shuan Folpp, who both come from rival firm Ogier.

McDonald specialises in corporate and finance work and joined the firm in August, while Folpp started in June and leads the group’s BVI litigation and insolvency practice.

Mourant says it is seeing increasing numbers of Asians seeking advice on its BVI services for asset financing structures and acquisition financing.

“It’s a reflection of increasing wealth and development in the region as well as willingness to lend into the region provided that a suitable structure can be used,” it notes.

In January, AsianInvestor spoke to the law firm when it opened its office in Hong Kong – its first in the region.

Other moves reported in the past week by AsianInvestor:

Invesco set to buy 49% of India's Religare AMC

Asia hedge funds suffer shortage of legal talent