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Gerken Capital Associates, a San Francisco-based alternative asset fund manager, has appointed Eswar Menon as group portfolio manager.

Prior to joining Gerken Capital, Menon (pictured) was chief executive and portfolio manager to Denahi Global Investments, a low volatility hedge fund focused on the Pan Asian Markets.

From July 1999 to December 2004, he was portfolio manager with Loomis Sayles where he managed international equities with a focus on Asia, emerging markets and Europe.

Previously, Menon was a portfolio manager with Nicholas Applegate, where he managed the emerging markets fund with a focus on Asia, Latin America, Central Europe, and Africa.

Lou Gerken, chief executive, says: 'Eswar has demonstrated an acute understanding of emerging market risks. We are using this period of economic angst to enhance our business structure and global reach. Eswar is a great addition because of his comprehensive knowledge of all the emerging markets. We look forward to the added reach and strength that he will bring to our investment activities in 2009 and beyond.'

Gerken also reported the firm's signing of an exclusive, long-term agreement, effective January 2009, with China Merchant Securities (CMS) to serve as the GCA Greater China Fund's on-the-ground regional partner.

Based in Shenzhen China, CMS is one of China's oldest investment firms. It is majority-owned by China Merchant Group, which was founded in 1872 and is China's 11th largest state-owned enterprise.

CMS is fully licensed in Hong Kong and China to offer a full range of financial services including equity sales and trading, research, investment banking and asset management.

All fund investment decisions will continue to reside with Gerken Capital Associates and its portfolio management team.

Gerken says the team's regular regional visits, combined with their 24/7 access to CMS, enables the firm to materially improve the quality of information flows and investment decisions made on behalf of the fund.

The agreement also requires that CMS invest in the GCA Greater China Fund, and provides GCA the option to access the China A-share Market via QFII (Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor) quota arranged by CMS.

QFII annual quotas are CSRC regulated and reserved for a finite group of approved foreign investors.

CMS has also agreed to market the GCA Greater China Fund through its distribution network in China and Hong Kong, as well as other GCA investment products.

Finally, GCA is in discussion with CMS regarding a possible minority equity investment in the GCA Parent Company.

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