US-based active manager PineBridge Investments has appointed BNY Mellon Asset Management’s former Asia-Pacific chief executive David Jiang as its new global CEO.

Speaking to AsianInvestor at midnight New York time after his first day in the office yesterday, Jiang underlined his excitement about the role and at joining “an independent company that allows us to be entrepreneurial”.

PineBridge is the former fund management arm of bailed out insurer AIG that was sold to Pacific Century Group in 2010. It had around $67 billion in assets under management as at December 31 last year, a steep drop from $80.9 billion as at March 31, 2011. Fixed income comprised around a third of its AUM, followed by alternative investments and equities.

Jiang says this was not an opportunity he had actively sought after quitting BNY Mellon in San Francisco at the end of last October as global head of its passive and ETF businesses.

Prior to that he had spent over seven years as Asia-Pacific CEO at BNY Mellon Asset Management, based in Tokyo and then Hong Kong, during which time he built a $50 billion business in active strategies across equities, fixed income and alternatives.

He had also served as co-head of BNY Mellon Corporation’s sovereign advisory board, overseeing its growth in sovereign wealth funds and central banks.

Asked if his appointment signals intent by PineBridge to increase its Asia focus, Jiang says: “[PineBridge] is interested in emerging markets, Asia and sovereigns and these are some of my strengths and areas where I can help. It’s a good match of skills.

“Asia is a growth area where I have experience and from that perspective I think I have something to contribute. But to be clear, my attraction to PineBridge is not only about Asia, it is really about the global footprint. We are in central Europe, Africa, South America and the Middle East, while the US market is incredibly important.”

However, he does suggest that PineBridge has not yet realised the potential of its footprint and capabilities. And he says he plans to travel to Asia next month and will regularly visit the region.

Asked if he might also look to add passive strategies to the firm’s active-only approach, given his experience at BNY Mellon, he responds: “It is too early to say, but I can say this: all large investors around the world care about passive as much as active, and my background in passive will help to put context in that investment and asset allocation decision.”

Still, recent moves indicate that PineBridge has indeed prioritised Asia. Last April it promoted and relocated Rajeev Mittal to Hong Kong as Asia CEO (ex-Japan), having been head of its emerging markets and international fixed income business in London.

He succeeded Ada Tse, who was reassigned to work as a senior adviser to focus on portfolio companies and limited partners in the PineBridge Asia private equity funds.

Further, last September PineBridge relocated its global head of equities, Robin Thorn, from New York to Hong Kong to drive its equities business in Asian growth markets. The same month it added Desmond Tjiang from BNP Paribas Investment Partners as managing director and portfolio manager for Greater China and Hong Kong. He was assigned a $1.5 billion portfolio.

The following month it appointed industry veteran Anita Varga from ING Investment Management as its new head of product development for Asia. Based in Hong Kong, she joined as managing director to drive expansion of PineBridge’s Asia product offering for global investors and to coordinate product development initiatives in the Asia ex-Japan region.

Of PineBridge's $67 billion in assets globally, over 20% originated in Asia. Listed equities accounted for around $14 billion of the portfolio, comprising $7 billion for emerging markets, $3 billion for developed markets and $3 billion for structured equities.

PineBridge has offices in 12 developed and 18 emerging markets, with equity investment staff on the ground in 13 locations. Around half of its equity assets are focused on emerging markets.

Since November Jiang has been lecturing at the University of California, Berkeley, and has also set up a technology company with a friend. But at 46, he has now opted for a bigger challenge.

He succeeds Win Neuger, who resigned as CEO and from yesterday assumed the role of vice-chairman to work with sales and distribution teams to manage client relationships.