After regional deals, SGAM shores up hubs

The fund manager has a raft of hires for its Hong Kong and Singapore businesses to keep up with its JVs elsewhere in Asia.
Societe Generale Asset Management (SGAM) has gone on a hiring spree for its offices in Hong Kong and Singapore, recruiting a pair of chief marketing officers and opening a hedge fund sales desk.

ôWe decided to strengthen our operations and resources in Hong Kong and Singapore to match the commitment weÆve recently made in other countries,ö says Laurent Bertiau, Asia-Pacific CEO in Tokyo.

SGAM has signed a number of deals in the past two years. It has entered into funds joint ventures with Industrial Bank of Korea and with Baosteel in China, taken a 37% stake in State Bank of India Mutual Funds and acquired Resona Asset Management in Japan.

ôWe've been under-resourced in Hong Kong, while Singapore is where we manage all our Asia-Pacific investments,ö Bertiau explains. ôWe are also developing our alternatives investment business.ö

The firm sources $31 billion from Asia-Pacific clients today, and BertiauÆs goal is to increase that to $40 billion by the end of 2006. Asia-Pacific now accounts for 7-8% of the firmÆs global AUM of around $400 billion, and Bertiau wants to see the region account for 10-12% of group AUM and profits over the next few years.

The next step for SGAMÆs expansion may be Taiwan, where Bertiau says the firm is exploring potential deals or distribution arrangements for its offshore products. SGAM has an institutional team in Australia that Bertiau says needs to become ômore aggressiveö and SGAM may also build there.

Beonca Yip has left Prumerica Asia Fund Management as regional director for international investments to join SGAM in Hong Kong as head of institutional business development and retail fund distribution for North Asia. She began her career with Citibank in 1995 and then joined JF Asset Management.

Meanwhile in Singapore, the firm has hired Ernest Yeo for the same role in Southeast Asia. Yeo, who also got his start at Citibank, joins from Deutsche Asset Management, where he served as director in sales and marketing in Singapore.

In addition, SGAM Alternative Investments is setting up a dedicated team of product specialists in Hong Kong alongside the existing structured-products group. SGAM is transferring Christophe Lalo from Paris to serve as regional head of hedge-fund sales and marketing. He oversaw the development of Asia-Pacific hedge fund products from Paris.

SGAM has hired Jackson Chan to work as LaloÆs senior hedge fund sales manager in Hong Kong. He had previously developed funds of hedge funds for the family office Sail Advisor, a unit of Search Investment Group. Bertiau says the alternatives team will hire more people this year.
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