HFT gets new CEO
Shanghai-based HFT Investment Management appointed Patrick Liu as chief executive on May 4. The joint venture between BNP Paribas Investment Partners and Haitong Securities lost its former CEO Tian Rencan in February this year, while Zhang Wenwei, HFT chairman, has performed the CEO functions for the past two months.

Liu was managing director and head of the Greater China global client group at Deutsche Asset and Wealth Management from May 2013. He was responsible for fundraising across retail and institutional clients in the Greater China region. Prior to that, Liu was the senior deputy CEO at Invesco Great Wall Fund Management, a Shenzhen-based JV between Invesco and Great Wall Securities from December 2009 to December 2012.

Tian was CEO at HFT for 12 years, and was one of the most experienced senior executives in the Chinese mutual fund industry. Local media has speculated that Tian planned to establish private fund firms, following the trend in the whole industry over the past year.

As deregulation and a soaring equity market has boosted the growth of private funds, many star managers and senior executives in China have been moving into the private segment. Market participants expect the talent shortage to intensify this year.

A number of well-known senior executives have left China’s mutual fund industry this year, the most well-known being China Universal Asset Management’s CEO Andy Lin, Bosera Asset Management’s general manager Wu Yaodong, Invesco Great Wall’s deputy general manager and chief investment officer Wang Penghui, Minsheng Royal Fund Management’s general manager Yu Daixi, China International Fund Management’s general manager and chief investment officer Feng Gang.

Old Mutual appoints SE Asia head
Old Mutual International has appointed Steve Hickman as head of region and CEO for Singapore and Southeast Asia. Hickman takes up his position on May 28 and will report to Marcel Bradshaw, Old Mutual International sales director.

Hickman joined Old Mutual International, part of Old Mutual Wealth, in September 2013 as the global head of high-net-worth for Asia.

Hickman replaces Craig Ellis, who will be leaving Old Mutual on May 25. An Old Mutual spokesman said Ellis was leaving “to pursue other career opportunities”.

Hickman has worked in the insurance industry for more than 20 years. He previously worked at HSBC in Hong Kong from March 2008 to March 2013, where he was head of distribution for high-net-worth business. Hickman worked for American International Assurance in Hong Kong from October 2004 until March 2008, where he was vice-president for brokerage and IFA.

Mercer takes on Asean principal
Mercer has hired Chua Boon Lee as principal for Asean investment consulting. Singapore-based Chua started in the newly-created role at Mercer on May 4 and will report to Soon Kian Lee, Asean business leader.

Chua will lead project teams across the Asean region and will fulfill the role of key relationship manager to Mercer clients.

Chua joins Mercer from Singapore’s Central Provident Fund (CPF), the government social security system. Chua was chief investment officer at CPF Board Singapore from July 2011 until October 2014. A CPF spokesperson said that Chua’s position had “already been filled by a senior officer within CPF,” without providing a name.

Prior to CPF, Chua was regional team leader for wealth management at Citibank in Singapore from December 2009 to April 2011. Chua was head of investment consulting at research house Morningstar Asia from March 2008 to November 2009. From January 2004 to March 2008, Chua worked at the Singapore and Sydney offices of rating agency Standard & Poor’s to develop portfolio solutions and perform due diligence on asset managers for institutional clients.

Meanwhile, Ray King left his role as Asia-Pacific head of private equity (PE) manager research at Mercer Investments on April 30. A spokesman for Mercer said that Melbourne-based King is not being replaced.

Asia-based PE researchers now report directly to Zurich-based Ralph Aerni, private markets co-CIO at Mercer. The restructuring followed the acquisition of SCM, which was completed in February 2015. In addition to Aerni, who was CIO of SCM, the acquisition also saw Hong Kong-based Joseph Chang join, boosting Mercer’s PE research capabilities.

SkyBridge hires in Seoul
Michelle Cha joined SkyBridge Capital as a vice-president on May 4. She is the sole employee in the new Seoul office and will lead the $13 billion alternative asset manager’s regional marketing effort. Cha joins from Woori Investment & Securities, which was renamed NH Investment & Securities in January this year after it was acquired by NH Financial Group in 2014.

Best known for organising the SkyBridge Alternatives Conference (SALT), the cancellation of last year’s SALT Asia event gave rise to speculation that a city such as Seoul or Tokyo may host future SALT Asia events. The Asia leg of the event was held in Singapore in 2012 and 2013. The flagship Las Vegas SALT conference was held May 5-8 this year.

Columbia Threadneedle gets Taiwan GM
Columbia Threadneedle Investments has hired Vina Cheng as general manager and sales director for wholesale distribution in Taiwan. Cheng’s general manager role was newly created but the sales director role is a direct replacement for Ben Hwa, who left the firm a few months ago. Hwa joined Columbia Threadneedle in 2011.

Cheng, who joined on May 4, reports to Michael Langlois, head of wholesale distribution in Asia Pacific, and Andrew Chan, COO and head of product development for Asia Pacific.

Cheng joins from Aviva Investors where she was the general manager for Taiwan and head of Greater China. She has more than 20 years of experience in Taiwan’s retail fund distribution and has held a number of senior roles including as deputy president for marketing and sales at Union Securities Investment Trust, executive director at Kirin Securities and Investment Consulting, and chief representative of Old Mutual Asset Solutions (UK).

Columbia Threadneedle is the global asset management group of Ameriprise Financial, a US-based financial services provider. 

Citadel sees departing executives
Two responsible officers have resigned from Citadel Investment Group’s Hong Kong operation.

Senior portfolio manager Kevin Quek resigned on April 1 while managing director Oliver Weisberg is set to depart by the end of June.

Quek said that he was returning to Singapore after spending four years in the US and seven years in Hong Kong.

Weisberg is set to co-manage a multi-family office launched by Alibaba’s vice-chairman Joseph Tsai, with Alexander West. West is CEO of Tsai’s existing single family office, Blue Pool Capital.

Also leaving Citadel’s Hong Kong office in April were fund manager Teck Hui Wee and macro trader Justin Chow as the hedge fund manager cut back its Asia macro trading desk.

M&G Real Estate gets head of capital solutions
Martin Towns was promoted to head of capital solutions at M&G Real Estate on April 1. In the newly created London-based role, which was announced on April 28, Towns will identify opportunities for international investors seeking direct real estate exposure to Asia, continental Europe and the UK. He reports to Tony Brown, global CIO.

Previously Towns reported to M&G Real Estate portfolio manager Trevor Hankin as deputy fund manager of a £9 billion ($14 billion) separate account for an internal client. That role has been assumed by Robert Tidy, who was previously the co-manager of M&G Real Estate’s European property portfolio. Towns joined M&G Real Estate in 2010, and before that he was director of commercial property at Close Brothers.

New Greater China role at CBRE
Real estate services firm CBRE has promoted Andy To to managing director of asset services for Greater China. The newly-created role is a promotion from To’s previous role as CBRE China’s executive director of asset services. To, who assumed the position on April 28, remains Shanghai-based.

Under the new structure Gerry Kipling, CBRE Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan’s executive director of asset services, and Dennis Yang, CBRE Taiwan’s executive director of asset services, both report to To. Both Hong Kong-based Kipling and Taiwan-based Yang continue to report to Craig Shute, senior managing director for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, under a matrix reporting structure.

Previously both Kipling and Yang also reported to CBRE Asia-Pacific’s head of asset services, Andrew Nicholson. To continues to report to Nicholson as well as Shute. He also report to CBRE China president, Ivan Poon.

Squire Patton Boggs makes family office hire
Law firm Squire Patton Boggs has hired tax fund and trust lawyer Patricia Woo to its Hong Kong office. Woo joined as Of Counsel on April 20 and reports to James Tsang, managing partner of Squire Patton Boggs in Hong Kong. The newly-created position is part of the law firm’s expansion of its family office/fund/trust capabilities.

Woo is experienced in helping ultra-high-net-worth families set up and operate family offices, and in fund formation, succession and tax planning matters. She is experienced in designing and structuring single and multi-family offices and dealing with financial regulatory issues. She also advises private banks and trust companies on the launch of new products and services that target ultra-high-net-worth families.

Patricia was previously a senior associate at law firm King & Wood Mallesons, from November 2007.

TH Real Estate hires Sydney analyst
William Keaveney joined TIAA Henderson Real Estate (TH Real Estate) as a Sydney-based senior property analyst on April 6.

Keaveney joins from Australian asset manager Challenger, where he worked as senior asset analyst for the real estate business. He reports to Stephen Philp, TH Real Estate Australia’s head of capital transactions.

TH Real Estate moved into a new Sydney office last month, which it shares with TIAA-CREF Asset Management. New York-based TIAA-CREF – or Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund – agreed to increase its stake in TH Real Estate from 60% to 100% on April 28 this year. The bulk of TH Real Estate’s $700 million Asia real estate investments are in Australia.

LaSalle veteran returns to Australia
Ian Mackie, international director at real estate investor LaSalle Investment Management (IM), has returned to Brisbane after more than 20 years in Singapore. The relocation took place on April 2 but was only announced on May 6. Mackie originally relocated from Brisbane to Singapore with LaSalle IM in 1994. He continues in his role as head of Asia-Pacific strategic partnerships, assisting global investors making direct investments in major real estate assets around the world. LaSalle IM manages $5.8 billion of Asia-Pacific real estate assets.

Other people news reported by AsianInvestor over the past two weeks:

AllianzGI set to name new Asia CEO

BNP Paribas creates new regional sales role

Mirae in hiring drive in bid to grow institutional business

Korean pension fund SEMA hires new CIO

Mutual fund talent in short supply amid equity boom