FUTURE FUND HIRES NEW LISTED EQUITIES HEAD

Australia’s Future Fund has appointed Genevieve Murray as head of listed equities, filling a role left vacant in March by the departure of Bjorn Kvarnskog to join Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

A Future Fund spokesman told AsianInvestor that Murray's start date was yet to be finalised, but said she would oversee a team of five who invest into public equities for the A$162 billion ($117.5 billion) sovereign wealth fund. She will report to David George, deputy chief investment officer for public markets.

Murray will join from Australia's AMP Capital, where she had been head of Australian equities since October 2017, leading three equity investment teams that invested A$10 billion ($7.24 billion) of funds under management. She had previously worked at Australian bank Macquarie since 1999, latterly as head of client acquisition for wealth management and head of research for wealth management.

Megan Ford has been Future Fund's acting head of listed equities since March, following Kvarnskog's departure. She will return to be a director for listed equities when Murray starts.

A spokesman for AMP Capital said Murray would remain with AMP "over the coming months to ensure a smooth handover at the embattled firm (see story below)". Her portfolio management responsibilities for the AMP Capital Equity Fund will be covered by co-portfolio manager Jason Davis, while a successor has yet to be approved for the AMP Capital Sustainable Fund.

VANGUARD TO CLOSE HONG KONG, TOKYO OFFICES

US fund giant Vanguard is shuttering its Tokyo and Hong Kong offices, after closing its Singapore office in 2018

The Valley Forge, Pennsylvania-headquartered fund house, which had $6.2 trillion under management at the end of January, said it will close the offices sometime between six months and two years' time.

A spokeswoman told AsianInvestor: "Only a minority of crew will relocate [from the Hong Kong and Tokyo offices]. However, in the Hong Kong office, we are maintaining sufficient crew to help wind down the office and serve clients through the transition."

This means the majority of the 50 people Vanguard has in Hong Kong and 20 in Tokyo will be laid off, although the spokeswoman said all departees "will receive extended financial support and outplacement assistance to ease their transition to new roles". 

The office closures amount to an effective admission that Vanguard's efforts to build a pan-regional, largely index fund- and exchange traded fund-focused business has not worked out. The company's regional operations had focused on institutional investors, whereas Vanguard's US business is heavily retail investor-focused.

The spokeswoman noted that "sometimes we do not see a good fit for building and scaling a retail business. This review process prompted the closure of our Singapore office in 2018 and shifts in our service model in other ex-US markets that we serve. This review has now led us to the conclusion to wind down our Hong Kong operation and close our Japan sales and service office".

Vanguard continues to have a office in Australia, and its new Asia headquarter will be in Shanghai.  This will support the joint venture that Vanguard signed up with Ant Financial in 2019 to launch a robo adviser, targeting China's fastest growing retail investor base. Scott Conking, the Hong Kong-based head of Asia and a 36-year Vanguard veteran, will eventually transfer to the Shanghai office.

The spokeswoman added that the Hong Kong stock market would "remain as a critical component for Vanguard's global diversified funds".  

CITADEL SETS UP SINGAPORE OFFICE, ASIA COMMODITIES TEAM

US hedge fund manager Citadel and market-maker Citadel Securities are to open an office in Singapore and the former firm has started to build a commodities trading team there.

Daniel Liu

Daniel Liu, a former Glencore energy derivatives trader, will join Citadel in November as a portfolio manager, initially focused on oil and refined products. He will head the new team and target a headcount of four or five.

Liu had been with commodity trading firm Glencore in Singapore since May last year and before that worked for Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch.

Citadel’s Singapore office, which will open later this year, will help extend the two firms’ presence across Southeast Asia and provide access to an expanded local talent pool, they said in a release. It will add to their other Asia Pacific branches in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Sydney, and 14 other locations worldwide.

Both firms are also continuing to grow their presence in Hong Kong, and Citadel Securities is also expanding its existing footprint in Shanghai and Sydney, the release said. A spokeswoman declined to put a number on how many staff they were adding.

Citadel's new office in Singapore may find it easier than its Hong Kong branch to attract talent, given the widespread concern over Beijing's growing encroachment on the Chinese territory.

A growing number of firms with offices in Hong Kong, including fund houses and asset owners, are either setting up additional operations in Singapore or considering doing so. Meanwhile, wealthy investors and family offices are seen to be increasingly moving money out of Hong Kong and instead booking assets in places like Singapore or Zurich.

CANADA LIFE UK SEEKS ASIA EQUITIES MANAGER

Canada Life, a UK subsidiary of Canadian insurer Great-West Lifeco, is looking to hire a London-based senior fund manager for Asian equities. Reporting to head of equities Mike Willans, the new appointment will replace Kim Lee, who passed away in May, a spokeswoman told AsianInvestor.

In the interim the LF Canlife Asia Pacific Fund is being managed by Willans and global equities portfolio manager Bimal Patel. As at July 31, the fund stood at £113.3 million ($125.7 million), while Canada Life Investments manages around £40 billion in total, around 20% of which is external client money.

This story has been updated to reflect how much money Canada Life manages on behalf of external clients, beyond its in-house insurance assets.

AMP CAPITAL CEO STEPS DOWN AND AMP CHAIRMAN RESIGNS

The former chief executive of AMP Capital, Boe Pahari, has stepped down from that role and returned to his previous role as global head of infrastructure equity, while David Murray, AMP’s chairman, has resigned, effective immediately.

Boe Pahari

Pahari, based in London, will report to Francesco De Ferrari, who will be interim CEO of AMP Capital while a recruitment process is under way, a spokeswoman said.

Pahari was appointed CEO in July, but AMP reversed the decision, releasing an update on August 24 about complaints made by a subordinate against him over sexual harassment in 2017. He had retained his former duties as head of infrastructure equity when he became CEO.

Debra Hazelton has replaced Murray as chairman. John Fraser has also resigned from his roles as a non-executive director on AMP's board and as chairman and non-executive director of AMP Capital.

Hazelton joined AMP’s board in June 2019 as a member of the remuneration, audit, nomination and risk committees.

This story has been updated to reflect that Pahari had retained his former duties as head of infrastructure equity when he became CEO.

HANG SENG INDEXES NAMES NEW CEO

Hang Seng Indexes (HSI), the provider of Hong Kong’s main stock benchmark and a subsidiary of Hang Seng Bank, has promoted Anita Mo to chief executive, effective September 1.

She will succeed Vincent Kwan, who is scheduled to retire from the index provider in January 2021 after 20 years at the helm. He will take on the role of senior adviser on September 1.

Mo is currently deputy CEO and head of product and business developent at HSI, having joined in 1997 and risen through several research and development and senior management positions. However, she spent some time away from the firm between 2014 and 2017. 

HSI did not immediately respond to emails or calls requesting information on how the company would fill Mo's former deputy CEO and head of product and business development roles. 

Mo first joined HSI in 1997 and rose through several research and development and senior management positions, though spent some time away from the firm between 2014 and 2017.

STANCHART POACHES TWO PRIVATE BANKERS FROM UOB

Standard Chartered Private Bank has appointed Kapil Poply as managing director and senior client partner for the global South Asia community (GSAC), and Gaurav Gupta as executive director and relationship manager for GSAC.

Both started on August 24 and report to Ravi Ramakrishnan, managing director and market head for GSAC. All three are based in Singapore.

The hires are part of the private bank’s growth agenda, a Standard Chartered spokeswoman said. She declined to comment on who had looked after their duties before they were on board.

Both Poply and Gupta joined from Singapore's UOB Private Bank. Poply was most recently a senior team head, who led a team covering Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa, while Gupta was a senior client adviser. UOB declined to comment on their departures.

Other people news reported by AsianInvestor in the past week:

OTPP opens in Singapore as Omers hires for capital markets