Asia's newest rating agency hires Fitch exec
Newly formed Universal Credit Rating Group has added a global chief analyst in Hong Kong and plans to hire an additional 25 analysts by 2015.

Stan Ho joined the group on October 14 from Fitch Ratings, where he was a senior director and head of structured finance and bonds for Asia in Hong Kong.

Universal Credit, a joint venture between US firm Egan Jones Ratings, RusRating of the Russian Federation and Dagong Credit of China, was formed on June 25. The first global credit ratings agency in Asia Pacific, it will assess the creditworthiness of global governments and corporations.

Ho has no direct reports yet, but the firm is actively looking to hire analysts to the team, targeting a headcount of 12 by late 2014 and 25 in 2015, a spokeswoman says.

Helen Wong has replaced Stan Ho at Fitch Ratings and now oversees the firm’s Asia ex-Japan structured finance team. Based in Hong Kong, Wong has been at Fitch for more than six years. She joined Fitch in Hong Kong from PwC in New York in 2007.

Eastspring names chief risk officer
Singapore-based Eastspring Investments has hired Gwee Siew Ping as chief risk officer. She started in the Lion City on October 21.

Gwee replaces Lakashman Kumar, who will retire later this year. Kumar has overseen the firm’s compliance division since 2001, and had been with the firm for 15 years in total.

Gwee joins from Schroder Investment Management, where she was regional head of compliance and risk for Asia Pacific, also based in Singapore. She had been with Schroders since 1997, holding several senior compliance roles. Previously she worked at Swiss Bank Corporation and JP Morgan.

In an internal move, Grace Chong has replaced Gwee at Schroders as head of compliance for Asia Pacific, a spokeswoman notes. Chong previously oversaw compliance for Singapore, and has been with Schroders since 2007.

Goldman hires head of electronic trading
Goldman Sachs has hired Ian Smith from fellow US bank Citi as managing director and head of electronic trading across Asia Pacific.

He replaces Shuya Kekke, who left Goldman at the start of the year and has since landed at JP Morgan Chase as head of Asia-Pacific sales for electronic trading.

Previously Smith was Asia-Pacific head of execution trading at Citi, and before that spent years at Credit Suisse.

Ben Valentine, former head of execution sales at Citi, has taken over Smith's responsibilities and is now head of electronic execution for Asia Pacific, a spokesman confirmed.

The appointment comes as a shift to electronic trading gathers pace. Trading volumes have revived, led by Japan, and high-frequency traders have returned to Asia in force. Large institutional investors are looking to cut trading costs and making more trading decisions in-house, reports AsianInvestor's sibling publication FinanceAsia.

The share of Asian equity trading volume executed through self-directed electronic trading systems increased to 21% in 2011, from 16% the year before. Asian institutions expect to be executing nearly 30% of their trading electronically by 2015, according to consultancy Greenwich Associates.

“We have been building out our electronic trading platform in Asia, tripling the number of clients on the algorithmic customisation platform”, said Canute Dalmasse, head of execution services for Goldman Sachs in Asia Pacific.

Goldman has added access to three markets in the past year: Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

Metlife shuffles regional management
Insurance firm Metlife is shuffling its bench of senior regional executives.

Rajesh Relan has been named head of bank distribution for Asia. Previously a managing director of PNB MetLife, its Indian joint-venture partner, Relan will relocate from New Delhi to Hong Kong later this year to take on the role. He spent seven years in New Delhi.

Relan replaces Mike Goodall, who will oversee bancassurance and bank distribution in Australia. Goodall will relocate from Hong Kong to Sydney in the coming weeks, a spokeswoman confirms. He previously oversaw the firm’s Asian bank distribution in Hong Kong for three years.

Tarun Chugh will take over Relan’s role in New Dehli, overseeing the business and operations in India. He joins from ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, where he was chief of distribution, operations and marketing for India.

All appointments are subject to regulatory approval, the MetLife spokeswoman says, declining to offer a timeline.

SG Korea continues domestic expansion
SG Securities Korea has announced two new appointments in Seoul as part of its domestic expansion, although the hires date back months in some cases.

The firm appointed Andrew Kim head of debt capital markets in August, reporting to Inhwan Oh, chief executive of SG Securities Korea, and Yves Jacob, head of debt capital markets for Asia Pacific.

Previously Kim oversaw financial institutions at SG Securities in Seoul. Before that he worked at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and BNP Paribas in both Hong Kong and Seoul.

Meanwhile SG Korea noted that Suktae Oh had joined in June as a Korea economist. Suktae Oh joined from Standard Chartered First Bank Korea, where he was regional head of research for Korea from 2009-2013. He also reports Oh and Klaus Baader, chief Asia-Pacific economist.

Suktae Oh began his career as an economist at Citi in Korea in 1996, where he worked until 2009.Both roles are newly created and part of the firm's expansion, a spokeswoman says.

SG Securities, Société Générale’s locally incorporated entity, has been expanding its Korea operations. In July it received a licence to deal in equities and derivatives, allowing SG to offer Korean institutions its suite of trading and structuring services.

ABN Amro starts SIP commodities desk
ABN Amro has launched its first dedicated commodities product desk in Asia in September for global and regional clients.

The structured inventory products desk will be overseen jointly by Chuey Peng Ng, executive director of commodities in Singapore, and Julien Moreau-Pernet, head of structured inventory product Asia. Both report to Jacqueline Chang, managing director of commodities in Singapore.

The desk will offer funding, cash and carry and delivery of physical commodities, including oil, metals and agri-commodities.

Withers hires legal quintet
Withers has hired five lawyers to its Asian family practice in Hong Kong.

Veronica Chan, April Wong, Billy Ko and William Huynh all join from other Hong Kong-based firms, while Tim Carpenter has moved from Withers' London office to Hong Kong.

Chan previously worked at SW Tai & Ko and joined in September; Wong joined from Keith Lam Lau & Chan this month; and Ko arrived from Messers, Ho & Partners, also in October. Huynh was previously at Tanner De Witt Solicitors and joined in September. Carpenter relocated this month.

Other moves reported in AsianInvestor this week:

Edmond de Rothschild AM seeks Asia partner

Pioneer approaching Taiwan distributors directly

JP Morgan wins China distribution licence

NZ Super to offer more active mandates