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More changes at Eastspring

Eastspring Investment's CIO Virginie Maisonneuve exits in the firm's latest shake-up.
Ooi Boon Peng, Eastspring Investments

Maisonneuve’s departure coincides with Eastspring restructuring its investment department into two separate divisions.

Ooi Boon Peng will take on the role of head of the new investment fund strategies team, in addition to his existing position as Eastspring Singapore and Hong Kong CEO, while Kelvin Blacklock, currently the chief investment officer for global asset solutions, has been appointed head of the newly-formed investment solutions team.

“These dual-positions are permanent and we are not looking for a new global CIO to replace [Maisonneuve],” a spokeswoman told FSA.

“Ooi and Blacklock share equal seniority, and are members of the firm’s executive management committee,” she added.

The heads of the equities, fixed income and quants desks report directly to Ooi, while Blacklock’s expanded role reflects the “client demand for customised investment products as well as the importance of Estspring’s life [insurance] clients,” said the spokeswoman.

Eastspring experienced major changes to its senior management team in January this year, which saw the departures of long-time CEO Guy Strap, CFO Ted Pull and COO Phil Stockwell. Strap, who retired, was replaced by Wai-Kwong Seck, whose 30-year career includes stints at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, sovereign wealth fund GIC, Lehman Brothers and DBS.

Commenting on the most recent moves, Seck said in a statement that the reshuffling was the result of a “strategic review of our investment team” to evaluate whether the firm has the right structure in place as client demand moves beyond single strategy investment products and traditional balanced portfolios.

According to the spokeswoman, Maisonneuve left the firm to pursue other opportunities, after helping “strengthen and diversify the firm’s investment capabilities”.

No more changes to senior management are planned, she added.

Expansion strategy

In recent years, mainly under ex-CEO Guy Strapp, the firm extended its footprint across the region. It pushed into Thailand, partnering with Kasikorn Asset Management in 2017 to co-manage an Asia fixed income fund and bought a 65% stake in Bangkok-based TMB Asset Management in 2018. In August this year, it entered into a binding memorandum of understanding with Thanachart Bank to acquire a controlling stake in Thanachart Fund Management.

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 an onshore fund in April.

“The strategy of expanding our China business remains unchanged,” said the spokeswoman.

According to local press reports, Pru Life UK, the insurance affiliate of Eastspring Investments, is also expected to launch a stand-alone asset management firm in the Philippines by the end of the year.

Eastspring aims to tap into Asian demand for secure income funds, launching fixed income products in Taiwan last month and for Hong Kong and Singapore private bank investors in July. It has also launched a global growth fund in Singapore and an Islamic equity income fund in Malaysia, and plans to develop an ESG quant strategy.

Part of the Mark Allen Group.