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EFG Asset Management and Ascalon Asia make key appointments, global hedge funds provide sanctuary for Asia’s smaller managers and HK’s Samena Asia Managers sees good seeding opportunities

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EFG Asset Management, the asset management arm of EFG International announced this week the appointment of two Hong Kong-based executives to strengthen its senior management team in the region. Nigel Sze has been appointed Head of Asia and moves from EFG Bank Asia where he was deputy CEO and Head of Private Banking in Hong Kong. Prior to this Sze was Asia Head for HNW clients at Citi Global Wealth Management.

Harmen Overdijk has been promoted to the role of Head of Investments. The appointments underline EFGAM’s intentions of consolidating their position strategically in the region, having also recently appointed top China equity fund manager Mansfield Mok. EFGAM’s CEO, Jim Lee, said that the growing interest in Asia reflects its growing importance to the global economy. “The changes we are making reflect our commitment to the region and our desire to extend our local investment capabilities. They (Sze and Overdijk) will also enable us to better serve our clients – encompassing private banking clients of EFG Bank, as well as specialist segments served by EFGAM directly,” said Lee.  

Continuing with people moves, Ascalon Asia have announced the appointment of Andrew Hutson to the role of investment specialist. Hutson will be based in Hong Kong. Ascalon Capital Managers specializes in forming long-term strategic partnerships with leading boutique hedge fund managers in Asia Pacific and is 100 per cent owned by Australian bank Westpac Banking Corporation.

In his role, Hutson will work with Ascalon Asia COO Chuak Chan covering business development and investor relations in Asia, Europe and the US for select Ascalon partner firms. Given that Ascalon looks to invest in the best local talent, Hutson will also be involved with the team in sourcing new partnerships with Asia-based asset management firms.

In the last six months Ascalon Asia has formed two new hedge fund partnerships, the most recent (April) being with Hong Kong merger arbitrage shop Athos Capital. Commenting on Hutson’s hire, Chan said: “Andy is a very experienced operator in the hedge fund space, with good technical knowledge and a sound understanding of regional landscape. He is well placed to assist our partner firms in raising new capital and also contribute to the selection of future partnerships.”

Added Jason Collins, Head of Business Development at Ascalon: “Andy’s appointment is not only important to our Asian-based partners, it also is significant for some of our Australian-based affiliates, who have grown strongly in the Australian market but have yet to realize their offshore potential.”

In other news, Bloomberg reported that Citadel LLC and CQS (UK) LLP are among global hedge funds providing a sanctuary for managers in Asia as smaller firms struggle to keep their heads above water. Agus Tandiono returned to Ken Griffin’s Citadel in January, whilst Sanjiv Bhatia joined CQS after shutting his Hong Kong-based fund in December. Tandiono launched the first equity fund for Income Partners Asset Management Ltd in 2009. However, the USD25million fund closed mid-2011 because “it was very difficult to raise money”, reported Bloomberg, quoting Francis Tjia, a managing partner at the Hong Kong-based firm.

Tandiono first joined Citadel in 2006 as an analyst, later that year becoming the head of Asian equities. Bhatia left US hedge fund Deephaven Capital Management LLC in July 2008 to start Isometric Investment Advisors Ltd. The fund had to close in December when its main seeder, FRM Capital Advisors, which accounted for approximately 80 per cent of the fund’s assets, decided to pull its money. Other managers moving back to large hedge funds include Anthony Correa, who co-founded Hong Kong-based Black’s Link Capital Ltd: the firm closed in April 2011. Correa is now heading up Asian operations at Taconic Capital Advisors LP, a New York-based hedge fund with USD7.8billion in AUM.

Finally, Asian hedge fund seeders are capitalizing on good seeding opportunities being thrown up by the tough global economic conditions reported Investment Europe this week. The 2008 crisis caused some of the biggest US funds to release Asian specialists managing local assets for them and as a result has benefited seeders like Hong Kong’s Samena Asia Managers, a joint venture between Reyl & Cie and Samena Capital. SAM’s chief executive, Julius Wang, said that the crisis was a “catalyst” and led to Samena investing in the Asia team of Kingdon Capital; the pan-Asian long/short strategy team were based in New York and looked for independent capital when they returned to the region. “It is definitely a buyers’ market for what we do, and we can be heavily selective as well,” commented Wang.

The Samena Angel I fund, which launched in 2007, was up cumulatively 26 per cent through April this year. It currently holds five investments and has exited four others. Most have generated double-digit returns since receiving Angel I’s seed money. “We are looking for stock pickers that can generate value on both sides, not for a typical ‘smart beta long/short’ manager where a manager says: ‘We will just be 40 per cent net long’,” said Wang when discussing the types of managers SAM looks for in the long/short equity space.


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