BlackRock hires Manulife executive
BlackRock has named Leo Seewald, former Taiwan chairman at Manulife Asset Management, as country head for Taiwan. He started on November 1 and is based in Taipei.

Seewald replaces Chang LinYun, who will now act as an adviser to BlackRock in Taiwan. Seewald reports to Michael Marquardt, BlackRock’s Asia-Pacific chief operating officer.

BlackRock has over 60 sales and distribution employees in Taipei, and has “ambitious plans to further grow this”, a spokeswoman says. She declined to offer more detail.

Seewald was previously Taiwan chairman at Manulife AM for four years. Michael Huddart took over his responsibilities on August 29, but Seewald officially stepped down on October 25. Huddart also oversees Manulife AM’s operations in Hong Kong and China.

PineBridge appoints Taiwan CIO
PineBridge Investments has named Joseph Tang chief investment officer for Taiwan, effective November 1.  

Based in Taipei, Tang oversees the firm’s investments in domestic and foreign equities and fixed income, and reports to Taiwan chief executive Ann Yang.

Tang replaces Richard Kao, who held the role Taiwan CIO role for over two years, but whose future plans could not be ascertained.

Before joining PineBridge, Tang was CIO at Value Partners Concord Asset Management in Taipei, which was acquired by Hong Kong-fund house Value Partners in 2011. He was based in Taipei while at Value Partners from 2011 to this month. He previously worked at JTM Capital Partners in Hong Kong and JP Morgan Asset Management.

A Value Partners spokeswoman declined to comment on whether Tang has been replaced.

PineBridge managed $69.1 billion in assets as of September 30.

Eastspring names sales head
Eastspring Investments has hired Yap Siok-Hoon as chief sales and marketing officer for Malaysia.

She started on November 1 in Kuala Lumpur and oversees the firm’s retail and direct sales divisions. Around 20 people report to Yap, who in turn reports to Lynn Cheah, Malaysia chief executive.

Yap’s responsibilities were previously divided up and handled under a number of sales executives in Kuala Lumpur.

She previously worked at Malaysian fund house Kenanga Investors as head of retail client solutions and services, where she oversaw fund distribution. Before that, she worked at another local firm, Hong Leong Asset Management, in a similar role.

It is understood that Yap has not yet been replaced at Kenanga, but a spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

Advisor hires two consultants in Japan
Capital advisory firm Blackpeak has added two senior consultants in Tokyo and plans to open an office in Beijing in the first quarter of next year.

Kohtaro Miyagi joined in October, having spent most of his career at electronics group Canon Group, where he was on the board and responsible for Asian operations. He spent most of his career at the Canon Group, the Japanese multinational company that specialises in manufacturing optical products, including cameras, camcorders, photocopiers, printers and medical equipment.

The firm also hired Hsiang-Chien Hsu in September as a consultant focused on Blackpeak’s Asian cross-border business practice. He previously worked at photovoltaic module manufacturer Nisshinbo Mechatronics and solar product manufacturer Motech Industries.

Blackpeak advises institutions – such as private equity firms, hedge funds, distressed-asset investors and sovereign wealth funds – on capital deployment across Asia. Its Japan practice has traditionally focused on domestic investments, but as the country’s investors look to diversify their exposure, the firm decided to add advisers with more regional expertise, a spokesman says.

The firm also aims to open an office in Beijing in the first quarter of 2014, its fourth in China. It will staff the office with a couple of business development executives to start with, and add more staff as its client base grows. Blackpeak’s China headquarters are in Shanghai, and it also has offices in Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

Blackpeak has 30 staff across Asia Pacific and aims to increase this to 40 by the end of 2014.

Alvarez & Marsal appoints Korea head
US corporate restructuring specialist Alvarez & Marsal has hired Jay Kim to oversee its Korean business from its newly opened office in Seoul.

Kim’s background is in Asian private equity, having worked for five years on a PE strategy at Riverside Company and for two years at PineBridge Investments on its Asia Opportunity Funds. He joined A&M in July.

While the firm has worked with Korean clients for over 10 years, this is the first time it has had an on-the-ground presence. The office officially opened on November 6.  

Before Kim joined, his responsibilities were handled by co-Asia heads Oliver Stratton and James Dubow out of Hong Kong.

A&M’s clients include private equity firms, corporate institutions, banks, law firms and distressed-asset investors. It has more than 50 executives working on Asia and opened its first Chinese office in Shanghai in 2007, followed by the Beijing branch in 2011.

Ropes & Gray adds to M&A Asia practice
Law firm Ropes & Gray has relocated James Lidbury to Hong Kong from Chicago to bolster its M&A practice in Asia.

Lidbury, co-leader of the firm’s global M&A practice, moved to Hong Kong in the first week of November. He specialises in advising private equity firms and corporations on cross-border transactions and M&A deals in Asia. One example includes advising PE giant Blackstone on its acquisition of Pactera Technology International.

In addition to Hong Kong, Ropes & Gray has offices in Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo.

Service provider expands to Lion City
MaplesFS, a fund administrator and service provider, can now offers its services in Singapore.

Hugh Thompson, global co-head of Maples Fiduciary, one of the MaplesFS divisions (the other being Maples Fund Services), oversees operations in the Lion City. He has spent 14 years at the company working on various investment funds and structured finance vehicles.

Four staff report to Thompson, and the firm plans on adding two more by the year-end and 12 more in total by the end of 2014. In the past seven years, MaplesFS has opened offices in Dubai, Dublin, Hong Kong and Luxembourg.

The Singapore branch provides middle office, data aggregation and reporting and fund administration services to Singapore-domiciled funds run by family offices, private wealth managers and institutional investors.

MaplesFS is located in the same office building as affiliate offshore law firm Maples and Calder, which opened its Lion City branch a year ago.  

Vontobel names Singapore head
Vontobel Financial Products, part of Swiss financial group Vontobel, has relocated Fredy Flury to Singapore from Zurich to oversee its Asia-Pacific operations.

Flury, head of fixed income, rates and currencies in Zurich, relocated this summer to take on the additional roles of Asia-Pacific CEO of Vontobel Financial Products and head of financial products for Singapore.

The division specialises in the origination and distribution of derivatives and structured products, as well as in market-making for such securities.

Other moves reported in AsianInvestor this week:

KIC chief Choi Chong-suk resigns

Asia chairman exits Goldman Sachs AM

NPS picks State Street for global equity custody