Flag names Zhu as new Asia co-head
Private equity firm Flag Capital Management, with $6.5 billion in assets under management, has appointed Myron Zhu as a partner and co-head of Asia Pacific investments alongside Wen Tan.

Zhu will direct the firm’s private investment activities in China with the support of Alice Chow, senior adviser.

Zhu joins as Peter Denious, a partner who oversaw the integration of Flag Squadron Asia into Flag in 2013, has refocused on co-leading the firm’s US venture capital strategy.

Before joining Flag, Zhu was head of alternative investments and Asia CIO, at JP Morgan Chase. Prior to that, he was with DBS Private Equity in Hong Kong, where he led the firm’s investment activities in Greater China. 

He joined DBS from AIG Capital Partners in New York, where he focused on investments principally in the Pacific Rim. Prior to AIG, he held risk management and marketing positions after launching his career with Credit Suisse First Boston.

Blackstone’s Asia head returning to New York
Michael Chae will return to Blackstone’s New York office in June after three years in Hong Kong running the firm’s Asia-Pacific private equity business, as reported by FinanceAsia last week.

The move is in line with expectations. Chae moved to Hong Kong in late 2010 to rebuild, localise and institutionalise Blackstone’s regional business, which had been floundering.

Since the global financial crisis, the team in Asia has more than doubled in size and now numbers 225 people across eight offices. There are more than 40 people dedicated to private equity in the region, 15% more than when Chae moved to Hong Kong.

As a senior managing director, Chae will continue to oversee Blackstone’s PE deal making in Asia and will re-assume his sector responsibility for investments in the media and communications industries.

The change comes at a time of transition for the firm in Asia. Antony Leung, Blackstone’s chairman for Greater China, left in February to join Hong Kong’s Nan Fung Group as chief executive.

Leung’s role at Blackstone was to help the firm make connections as it developed and he is not being replaced. Blackstone’s head of India private equity Akhil Gupta was replaced in 2013 after mixed performance in that market where Blackstone had been one of the most active global private equity funds at striking deals.

Ed Huang and Yi Luo will now lead Blackstone’s PE investments in China, and Jan Nielsen and James Carnegie will head the business outside China.

Huang and Nielsen will coordinate Blackstone’s private equity operations day-to-day from the Hong Kong office, with Luo and Carnegie continuing to head Blackstone’s Shanghai/Beijing and Sydney offices respectively.

Chae’s move means more responsibility for Chris Heady, head of Blackstone’s real estate business in Asia, who will assume shared oversight for the investor relations and business development team in the region with Chae.

Blackstone’s real estate and private equity businesses are both sizeable in terms of capital invested but while the PE team invest out of a global $16 billion fund the real estate division is raising a separate pool of capital to invest in Asia.

In addition, Gautam Banerjee, who joined the firm in January last year as chairman of Blackstone Singapore, will become a senior managing director and co-chairman of the Asian operating committee.

East Capital appoints senior salesman in Asia
Eastern Europe-focused fund house East Capital has appointed Sébastien Gandon as senior account manager on its Hong Kong sales team. He replaces Nikodemus Dahlgren, who is moving back to the Sweden headquarters.

Gandon, who joined the boutique fund manager from its Paris office earlier this year, will focus on developing relationships with institutional clients for the company across Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Japan and Australia.

When working for East Capital in Europe, he managed relationships with private banks, multi-managers, institutions and family offices across a number of countries.

East Capital manages €3.5 billion in public and private equity and real estate. Based in Stockholm, it also has offices in Hong Kong, Kiev, Luxembourg, Moscow, Oslo, Paris and Tallinn.

Manulife Financial appoints new Asia CFO
Canada-based Manulife Financial has hired Philip Witherington as Asia chief financial officer, replacing Craig Merdian, effective in June.

Based in Hong Kong, Witherington will oversee all financial functions for the insurance and wealth unit, reporting to Steve Roder, chief financial officer, and Robert Cook, general manager for Asia.

Witherington joins Manulife from HSBC, where he most recently ran the Asia finance division for the retail banking and wealth management global business. A spokesman for HSBC declined to comment on whether he has been replaced.

Prior to HSBC, he was vice president of finance at insurance firm AIA Group in Hong Kong.

Assets under management at Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were C$599 billion ($563 billion) as at December 31.

CBRE names Greater China head of research
CBRE has hired Marcos Chan from rival property services firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) in Hong Kong as head of research for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

He had spent 13 years with JLL, most recently as head of research for North China. CBRE confirms that it has not replaced Chan.

Property lobby group names new CEO
The Asia Pacific Real Estate Association has named Peter Verwer as its new chief executive, effective July 1. He replaces Peter Mitchell, who tendered his resignation last year.

Verwer is currently CEO of the Property Council Australia, the country’s advocate for the $670 billion investment property industry. In addition to its core activity of advocacy and public affairs, the Property Council operates learning, research, publishing and networking businesses.

The Property Council employs 94 people and generates annual revenue of A$26 million ($24 million).

Other people moves this week on AsianInvestor:

Winton Capital sees Asia chairman depart

BlackRock's McCombe reflects on Asia stint

BlackRock's Heather Pelant to return to US

BlackRock names new Asia chief