BSI appoints head of Asia private banking
BSI Bank has promoted Raj Sriram to the newly created role of Asia head of private banking, as the firm makes changes following the exit of Esther Heer in December. Sriram started in his new role on February 2.

Singapore-based Sriram has been deputy chief executive and head of private banking for south and Southeast Asia since joining BSI in December 2009. He retains his deputy CEO position.

Heer had been head of private banking for four years, after rejoining Hanspeter Brunner, her former boss at Coutts, at BSI. She was replaced last month by Jonathan Lin, as reported.

Heer and Sriram had previously also been colleagues of and BSI Bank Asia CEO Brunner when all three worked at UK private bank RBS Coutts. In 2009 Brunner, formerly co-CEO at Coutts, joined BSI in 2009, as reported. Dozens of Coutts staff followed him over the subsequent months.

BlackRock adds senior equity portfolio manager
US fund house BlackRock has appointed Christopher Hall to a newly created role as senior portfolio manager in its Asian fundamental equities team.

Based in Hong Kong, Hall is responsible for research across the region. He started on February 2, reporting to Andrew Swan, head of Asian equities.

The US firm manages $4.65 trillion in AUM globally – of this, $397 billion was sourced from Asia Pacific as of September 30.

Before joining BlackRock, Hall was Sydney-based senior investment officer at Australian firm Argo Investments. Argo declined to comment on whether it has hired a replacement for Hall.

Hall was senior PM at Goldman Sachs JBWere between 2000 and 2003 and senior PM at National Australia Asset Management from 1990 to 1999, according to his LinkedIn profile.

RBC WM hires first Asia head of discretionary
RBC Wealth Management has appointed Juan Aronna in the newly created role of head of discretionary investment management in its Asian team.

Based in Singapore, Aronna reports to Stefan Mueller, head of investments and products in Asia. Aronna arrived at the Canadian firm late last year and is responsible for developing fee-based advisory and discretionary portfolio solutions.

Aronna joins from UBS Wealth Management, where he worked for 14 years. He joined the Swiss firm as a portfolio manager in 2000, and was head of portfolio services in Asia when he left last year, according to his LinkedIn profile. 

RBC WM had C$452 billion ($363 billion) of AUM globally at the end of 2014.

AMP Capital continues infrastructure equity revamp
AMP Capital saw three senior executives leave its head office in Sydney as of February 6: Paul Foster, head of infrastructure for Australia and New Zealand; Chris Wade, head of customised accounts for infrastructure; and John Mitchell, head of listed debt.

Foster and Mitchell had worked for AMP Capital since 2004, while Wade had joined in 2010, according to their LinkedIn profiles.

Their departures comes as part of a streamlining of the global infrastructure equity team, which has also resulted in three internal promotions in Sydney.

Michael Cummings, infrastructure equity fund manager at the firm, now has an expanded role as head of Australia and New Zealand infrastructure funds.

Michael Bessell, global head of origination, becomes head of Australia and New Zealand separately managed accounts and origination.

Julie-Anne Mizzi, community infrastructure fund manager, is promoted to head of social and aged care for Australia and New Zealand.

The changes follow a review undertaken by London-based Boe Pahari since he was promoted to global head of infrastructure equity last November, as reported.

Pahari’s former role as head of infrastructure for Europe and the Americas will remain unfilled.

LaSalle names first Australia head of funds management
Real estate specialist LaSalle Investment Management has named Chris Forbes in a newly created role as Sydney-based head of funds management for Australia.

He joined on February 2 from Charter Hall, where he spent nine years as manager of the A$2 billion ($1.57 billion) core-plus office fund. Charter Hall’s Craig Newman has taken over as manager of that fund.

At LaSalle IM, Forbes oversees the Australia core-plus fund and the LaSalle Australia Club Investments Trust, which will continue to be managed by Simone Dalley and Will Gray. Forbes reports to LaSalle IM’s Asia-Pacific CEO, Philip Ling.

Challenger replaces head of fund management
Australian financial services group Challenger has appointed Ian Saines as the new chief executive of its fund management division, effective from March 2.

He will also manage the business of Fidante Partners, a boutique fund house under Challenger, and of Challenger Investment Partners (CIP), the division managing institutional money, including Challenger Life Company.

Saines will replace the former funds division head Rob Woods, who takes on the newly created role of chief executive of group strategy. Woods will be responsible for maintaining the growth of the annuities and fund management business.

Saines will join from Commonwealth Bank of Australia, where he was group executive from 2004 to 2013, focused on providing capital solutions to institutional, corporate and government clients.

Prior to that, he was managing director at Zurich Capital Markets in Asia from 2000 to 2002. He was also executive vice-president at Bankers Trust Australia from 1984 to 1995, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Challenger managed A$54.2 billion ($42.42 billion) in AUM as of last September.

RHB appoints new retail banking head
Malaysia’s RHB Bank has appointed HSBC veteran U Chen Hock as head of group retail banking, replacing Charles Sik, who has left the firm.

He is responsible for local and regional operations, covering Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia and Laos. He reports to Khairussaleh Ramli, deputy group managing director of RHB Bank.

U joined the Malaysian bank in 2013 following the merger of RHB Investment Bank and OSK Investment Bank, where he was chief executive from 2011.

He joined OSK in 2010 following a 30-year career at HSBC in Malaysia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. U held various roles in the region at the UK bank in corporate, commercial and consumer banking.

RHB is Malaysia’s fourth biggest bank, with total assets of RM181 billion ($51 billion), translating into a domestic market share of 9.7%.

Milbank Tweed opens Korea office
US law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy is opening a foreign legal consultant office in Korea and will relocate a partner from Hong Kong to Seoul, Kim Young-Joon, to head it.

Kim will continue to work with Asia managing partner David Zemans, based in Singapore. No one will immediately replace him in Hong Kong.

Kim started his career at Milbank in New York, and for the past decade has been based in Hong Kong. He was managing partner of Milbank’s Tokyo office from 1997-2003.

Milbank advises on work including project finance, M&A, private equity investments, and disputes.

Foreign law firms have been permitted to practice in Seoul since in 2012.

Withers enters partnership with Khattar Wong
Family law firm Withers in Singapore has taken advantage of the city’s increased flexibility for foreign players by setting up a partnership with local counterpart Khattar Wong. From April 2015 the firm will be rebranded as Withers Khattar Wong.

The alliance will offer a range of services, including wealth planning, litigation and arbitration, and commercial legal capabilities across the Singaporean, UK and US jurisdictions.

Withers’ Singapore office has nine lawyers, while Khattar Wong has 26. 

The Singapore authorities made amendments in mid-2012 to facilitate tie-ups between local and foreign legal practices.

Other people news reported this week on AsianInvestor:

GPIF names new head of investment strategy

Manulife merges AM, wealth units in Asia

Invesco hires industry veteran from rival

AllianzGI, Schroders lose veteran services staff

Wave of hedge fund closures tipped

Korea's MMAA splits CIO role to boost returns