Eastspring CIO departs; new CEO seen being sought

The asset management arm of Prudential Corporation Asia is ringing more changes at the top, including restructuring its investment department, amid ongoing talk of a potential sale.
Eastspring CIO departs; new CEO seen being sought

It’s already been a turbulent couple of years for Prudential's Asian business and more change could be on its way before the demerger of the British insurer's Asian and US arms from its UK unit is complete.

Eastspring Investments, the fund management arm of insurer Prudential Corporation Asia, has restructured its investment department, leading to the departure of chief investment officer Virginie Maisonneuve.

She has left to pursue other opportunities, a spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

Maisonneuve's exit comes as Singapore-based Eastspring is introducing two investment-focused teams – an investment solutions and an investment fund strategies team, the statement said.

Ooi Boon Peng

Ooi Boon Peng will take on the role of head of investment fund strategies, in addition to his current role as chief executive for Singapore and Hong Kong.

Kelvin Blacklock, currently CIO of global asset solutions, has been appointed head of investment solutions. Both are based in Singapore.

Eastspring has also been approaching senior executives to gauge their interest in taking over as overall CEO on a permanent basis from Seck Wai-Kwong, according to one well-placed source.

Some industry observers, at the time of Seck's appointment, described the hire as unusual and some felt it was potentially a temporary one until the current transitional period for the group had been navigated. And according to another source familiar with the situation, Seck – who only took up the role in January – is on a fixed-term employment contract.

Kelvin Blacklock

Unsurprisingly, speculation also continues over the future of Eastspring itself, with the source indicating that it had been touted to other firms to gauge their interest in it as a potential acquisition.

Eastspring has been linked with various potential acquirers, including Chinese insurer Ping An, but has previously indicated that it is not actively pursuing a sale. 

The company declined to comment when asked by AsianInvestor whether it was seeking a new CEO or was testing the market for acquisition interest.


In respect of the investment team reorganisation, Seck said: “A strategic review of our investment team was undertaken to ensure we have the right structure in place to capitalise on current and future market opportunities, and to reinforce our commitment to all our clients.”

“In the current investment environment, clients’ needs are becoming increasingly complex with many looking beyond single strategy investment products and traditional balanced portfolios,” he added. “As such we are restructuring our investment department to ensure we are well positioned for the future and fully able to capitalise on the current market opportunities.”

The latest personnel changes follow the departure of the company's former CEO, chief financial officer and chief operating officer in January and of a number of senior investment staff in subsequent months.

However, the firm has also since brought in several senior sales executives, including Daryl Eee as head of institutional and Heston Goh as director of institutional business.

Eastspring has also been expanding regionally. It acquired Thailand's TMB Asset Management in mid-2018 and has been building up its onshore business in China too, after obtaining a licence to set up a wholly foreign-owned enterprise early last year.

At the group level, Prudential has now formally submitted an application to the UK regulator for its demerger, which is slated to be completed by the end of this year.

The circular in relation to the proposed demerger and the prospectus in relation to the proposed admission of M&G’s ordinary shares have each been submitted to the Financial Conduct Authority by Prudential and M&G respectively, the firm said in a statement on Wednesday.

Information on the proposed timetable for the demerger and about both businesses will be released in the circular and prospectus, once they are approved for publication, added the statement.

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.