With Murphy, Fortis bids for pole position

Hedge-fund administrator Fortis hires Asia hedge-fund maven Joanne Murphy in Hong Kong and opens a marketing office in Tokyo.
Fortis Prime Fund Solutions has gone on the offensive to gain the upper hand in AsiaÆs hedge fund administration sector. In a series of moves, Fortis' hedge fund administration unit is opening in Tokyo, where marketing activities will be handled by managing director Andrew Mascall-Robson.

He will report to Joanne Murphy in Hong Kong, who has recently joined as commercial director for Asia. She will be responsible for marketing, account relationships and business development emerging from FortisÆ offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo.

She will be reporting to director Tim Mann in Hong Kong. Murphy had formerly been working in Deutsche Asset Management SingaporeÆs sales unit as director of absolute-return strategies. Her successor at Deutsche has yet to be named.

Does Fortis have designs on commanding market supremacy in the Asian hedge-fund administration sector?

ôThatÆs what IÆve been hired for,ö says Murphy. ôManagement in Benelux wants to develop that footprint in Asia and thatÆs why Fortis is making these moves now. We will be paying especially close attention to the hedge funds moving into Asia from Europe and the USA.ö

Murphy is a well-known figure in the region's hedge-fund industry, having led the development of Bank of Bermuda's hedge-fund servicing platform under the leadership of Paul Smith; that business was subsequently acquired by HSBC, which is now Fortis' main rival. (Smith went on to run HSBC's worldwide alternative services platform from New York, a post from which he resigned earlier this year.)

Fortis offers hedge fund investors an IT platform that feeds its i-fund web interface with three real-time systems, backed by Globus for its banking systems, Geneva for reporting and NTAS for transfer agency. It also offers an i-fund trading product allowing fund of hedge fund clients to submit fund trading instructions direct to the custodian.

In addition to the administration business, Fortis owns a minority stake in a fund management joint venture in China, Fortis Haitong Investment Management, as well as Fortis Private Bank, rebranded from its former incarnation, Mees Pierson.
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