Neuberger Berman splits out China equity team, adds WFOE head

Neuberger Berman's Greater China team is going independent from the US fund house. It is setting up a separate company in Hong Kong called Green Court Capital Management (GCCM), in which NB will hold a passive minority ownership stake, said the firm in a statement.

As a result of the change, GCCM will replace NB as the investment manager of the company's China equity fund.  

Asked why NB was making this move, a spokesperson said the fund house felt that establishing an independent firm, with NB maintaining a substantial minority interest, would be the the best approach as it continued to expand in China.

The transaction is expected to be effective in the second quarter of the year. All of the Greater China team’s investment professionals, research analysts and traders will move to the new entity. 

This follows the November move to set up Neuberger Berman Investment Management (Shanghai), a wholly foreign-owned enterprise (WFOE) designed to provide investment services to China’s domestic market.

Patrick Liu, former chief executive of Shanghai-based fund house HFT Investment Management, joined the WFOE in February as head of China and general manager. HFT chairman Zhang Wenwei is currently in the acting CEO role. 

HFT is a joint venture between Haitong Securities and BNP Paribas Investment Partners.

Fund Channel opens Singapore branch

Fund Channel, a Luxembourg-based fund distribution management services provider, opened a Singapore branch on March 6, its first presence in Asia.

 Lucas Bouziat

Lucas Bouziat, a business development manager, has relocated to Singapore from Luxemburg. He reports to Pierre-Adrien Domon, who is based in Luxembourg and heads the firm’s business development globally. The Singapore branch project is also under the direct oversight of Fund Channel's chief executive Richard Lepère.

Fund Channel will recruit locally to add more staff, Lepère told AsianInvestor by email.

The company is a joint venture between French fund houses Amundi (which owns 50.04%) and BNP Paribas Investment Partners (49.96%). Its services comprise regulatory monitoring and assisting distributors in the calculation and monitoring of commission payments for the distribution of funds. It also has an office in Switzerland. 

Citi’s David Russell takes over Hong Kong markets 

Citi has appointed David Russell as head of Hong Kong markets in addition to his existing title as Asia- Pacific head of securities services.

It means he has taken on responsibility for an additional 400 people in the US bank's Hong Kong office, adding to the 2,000-odd personnel he already oversees who deliver Citi’s various securities services capabilities across Asia Pacific.

 
 David Russell, Citi

In his new remit Russell will oversee Citi’s various global markets operations operating out of Hong Kong, including foreign exchange, equities, fixed income and derivatives. The US bank delineates its markets and securities services operations as one division, so it makes sense for Russell to assume the additional responsibilities. 

Russell’s new role means minor changes to his reporting lines. He continues to report to Okan Pekin, global head of investor services, and Lee Waite, global head of custody and clearing. But regionally he now adds Weber Lo, country officer and chief executive for Hong Kong, to his existing boss Patrick Dewilde, Asia-Pacific head of markets and securities services.

Russell’s assumption of the Hong Kong markets role comes a few weeks after his predecessor, Paulus Mok, transferred to become Citi’s chief country officer for Taiwan. 

VP Bank plans Asia expansion

Liechtenstein-based VP Bank has outlined a plan to expand its Asian business, which includes adding up to 40 new advisers in the region in the next three years and making potential acquisitions.

The new hires would account for about 50% of the total additional 25 processionals per year the private bank plans to hire globally over the next three years. VP Bank is also recruiting personnel for its legal and compliance teams in Asia as regulatory pressures intensify.

The firm said it was also targeting corporate acquisitions and the takeover of entire teams in Asia.

VP Bank’s assets under management increased by 2.8% last year to Sfr35.8 billion ($35 billion) and it saw a Sfr7 billion net inflows of new client money, mainly from Asia. The bank did not specify how much came from the region.

However, smaller players have been struggling to be profitable, given the growing importance of scale in the wealth management business that has led to a wave of industry consolidation in the region.

Recent examples include LGT's purchase of ABN Amro's Asian private bank, DBS's acquisition of ANZ's Asian wealth business and OCBC's takeover of Barclays' regional private bank. Meanwhile, several smaller asset and wealth managers, such as Edmond de Rothschild and Syz have closed their businesses in Asia. 

In Asia, VP Bank is represented in Hong Kong and Singapore, with about 50 employees where 40 are in Singapore. The number of employees at the Singapore office increased this past year by 33%, said the firm, and they are led by Bruno Morel, who became Singapore CEO this month. Clare Lam is responsible for the Hong Kong office.

Deutsche loses Australia team head to Citi 

Citi Private Bank has hired Stewart Boag as a senior relationship manager in Singapore, effective February 28. He was previously a senior client partner and Australia team head at Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management.

Boag's last day at Deutsche was February 24 and he had been with the firm for nearly nine years. The bank declined to comment on his departure.

Before that he had worked at Macquarie Group, Westpac Private Bank and Goldman Sachs JB Were, according to his LinkedIn profile.

UBS names new desk head in Hong Kong

UBS Wealth Management has named Chris Ng, former head of banking products, as Hong Kong desk head, a more client-facing role.

As of March 6, Ng replaced Michael Christo, who has left the firm after three months in the role. Before taking it up, he was Hong Kong head of the portfolio specialist team, responsible for marketing investment products and services platform to clients in Greater China.

The portfolio specialist team has been restructured so there is no direct replacement for Christo, with his role now being spread among the team in Hong Kong, a spokesperson said.

Ng has not been replaced in his former role and his duties have been spread among the team, said a UBS spokesperson.

Julius Baer hires duo from Deutsche WM

Julius Baer has hired two senior executives from Deutsche Bank Wealth Management for its Hong Kong team, both effective this month.

Ancus Mak joins as a director in the chief investment office in Asia, focusing on mandate solutions for high-net-worth, ultra-HNW and institutional clients. He reports to Asia CIO Bhaskar Laxminarayan.

At Deutsche Mak had been vice president of global products and solutions, with a focus on discretionary portfolio management. His last day there was March 1.

Julius Baer also has hired Olive Wang as director in the fund specialists team in Hong Kong. She reports to Johann Santer, who heads the team. Wang was a fund specialist at Deutsche and left the firm on February 25.

Deutsche declined to comment on whether Mak or Wang had been replaced. 

Carret Private adds senior advisers

Carret Private Investments (Asia), an affiliate of New York-based Carret Asset Management, has added two senior advisers in Hong Kong – David Lam and Calvin Hsu – as its seeks to build its multi-family office business.

Lam joined Carret Private’s asset management subsidiary in December in the newly created role of chairman of the advisory board.

He was most recently head of North Asia at UK private bank Coutts, though he left that role in April 2016 and has since been on sabbatical. Before joining Coutts, Lam was Asia-Pacific head of Swiss fund house GAM for around 11 years.

Hsu joined Carret Private's wealth management affiliate, QL Asset Management, on March 1 as partner and head of Greater China, another newly created role.

Hsu spent much of his financial career working for Citi, most recently as regional head for Citi Wealth Advisors, said Carret in a release. Shrikant Bhat, Citi's Singapore-based regional head of investments, has assumed his duties.

Hsu was previously in senior wealth management roles at Salomon Smith Barney. Prior to this, he was head of Hong Kong at Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management.

Both Hsu and Lam report to Carret's managing partners.

Indosuez hires RM from Julius Baer in Singapore

Indosuez Wealth Management, part of French group Credit Agricole, has appointed Lynda Leong Loo Lim as senior director, effective March 8.

She has 20 years of experience as a client adviser and private banker. Before joining Indosuez, she was working at Julius Baer as a relationship manager in Singapore and before that at UBS.

Julius Baer declined to comment on her departure.

Indosuez has been activing in hiring in recent months and aims to increase its front-line staff by 20% in the next two years, Asia CEO Pierre Masclet told AsianInvestor during an interview about the firm's plans last month.

Other people news reported on AsianInvestor in the past week:

MSCI’s Asia head exits to build new business