Eastspring culls C-suite management team

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Eastspring Investments chief executive officer Guy Strapp will leave the Singapore-based firm along with chief financial officer Ted Pull and chief operating officer Phil Stockwell.

Guy Strapp, Eastspring Investments

The departures signal a major change in leadership at the Asian investment management firm owned by UK-insurance company Prudential. Strapp, who held the top job for six of the 12 years he spent at the firm, will be replaced by former State Street Asia CEO Wai-Kwong Seck in April.

However, a spokesperson told FSA that, despite the dramatic shakeup at the top, “the strategy and business plan for Eastspring remain unchanged”.

In a statement, Prudential Asia head Nic Nicandrou said that Wai-Kwong’s appointment “reflects our commitment to accelerate the growth momentum of our leading asset management business in the region and achieve long-term success”.

His comment suggests that there was concern that Eastspring, which had $195bn of assets under management (at 30 September 2018), wasn’t growing fast enough amid rumours that the firm and its parent Prudential are potential takeover targets.

On the other hand, Strapp was keen to stress the extent of Eastspring’s growth under his leadership. In the same press statement, he expressed delight at overseeing “an incredible era of organic and inorganic growth as we have expanded across Asia – resulting in the doubling of profits and assets under management and the creation of an unrivalled footprint”.

Under Strapp, the firm pushed into Thailand, partnering with Kasikorn Asset Management in 2017 to co-manage an Asia fixed income fund and more significantly, buying a 65% stake in Bangkok-based TMB Asset Management in 2018.

In China last year, the firm set up an investment management wholly foreign-owned enterprise (IM WFOE) and obtained a private fund licence in October, allowing the firm to launch a fund onshore in China.

Yet Eastspring strategies generally have a value-focused approach and for several years, until recently, markets have instead favoured growth strategies.

Pull has been Eastspring CFO since 2013 and will stay until the end of February; Stockwell, who was appointed COO in May 2015, will leave immediately. The “departures are not linked with Guy (Strapp)’s retirement,” said the spokesperson, who insisted that all the departures were “amicable”.

Wai-Kwong has had a 30-year career that included stints at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, sovereign wealth fund GIC, Lehman Brothers and DBS. Most recently he was Asia CEO at State Street and has already been replaced by Ian Martin.

“Wai-Kwong has an outstanding track record of delivering growth and value to shareholders and clients,” the spokesperson said.

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