New CEO to grow Straits Lion into big cat

Former UOB-AM exec Daniel Chan is charged with turning the firm into a major manager of third-party assets.

Daniel Chan has resigned from UOB Asset Management in Singapore, where he had served as managing director and CIO, to join local rival Straits Lion Asset Management, the investment arm of Great Eastern Life Assurance. His mandate is to transform Straits Lion from just an appendage of Great Eastern into a major fund manager for third-party client money.

He will serve as CEO and executive director, a newly created position designed to give Straits Lion a proper focus on business development. His reporting line is complicated but his main boss is now Tan Beng-lee, CEO at Great Eastern Life and chairman of Straits Lion.

Meanwhile at UOB Asset Management, Chan is being replaced internally by a fellow portfolio manager, Thio Boon-kiat, who will report to Terence Ong, senior vice president. The firm has S$21.2 billion ($12.8 billion) of assets under management.

Straits Lion got its start in 1997 to manage Great Eastern's insurance assets. It remains 80% owned by Great Eastern Holdings, which is the holding company for Great Eastern Life and Overseas Assurance Corporation, and 20% by The Straits Trading Company, making it the largest insurance asset pool in Singapore and Malaysia. Great Eastern Holdings is a subsidiary of OCBC Bank.

The S$24.4 billion ($14.8 billion) Straits Lion specializes in managing insurance and institutional funds, with a focus on Asian equities and fixed income. This year it branched out by completing a $1.5 billion CDO in May with Goldman Sachs, said to be the first synthetic CDO managed in Asia, thus winning its first third-party assets.

This spring it also got into hedge funds by forming a joint venture with US-based Fairfield Greenwich Group called Fairfield Straits Lion, which aims to develop hedge fund strategies for regional investors.

All this activity required a full-time senior executive to drive it forward. Straits Lion is keen to develop relationships with investment consultants and start managing traditional third-party assets like other fund management houses, says a spokeswoman.

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