Eastspring’s CIO leaves amid firm restructuring

Prudential’s Asian asset manager will create an investment solutions team, focused on providing multi-strategy products to investors, as well as an investment fund strategies team.

Virginie Maisonneuve is leaving her position as chief investment officer of Eastspring Investments, the asset manager of the UK’s Prudential in Asia-Pacific, as the firm restructures its investment department.

According to a statement by Eastspring, Maisonneuve, who has served as CIO since 2017, will be departing “to pursue other opportunities.”

Maisonneuve could not be immediately reached for comment. Eastspring declined to comment on her departure beyond the statement.

“During her tenure at Eastspring, Virginie has helped strengthen and diversify our investment capabilities,” Eastspring chief executive Wai-Kwong Seck said in the statement.

As CIO, Maisonneuve was responsible for managing all investments at Eastspring, including the firm’s equity, fixed-income, asset allocation, private equity, infrastructure and onshore investment offerings.

The firm also announced that the restructuring would involve the creation of an investment solutions team and an investment fund strategies team.

“Clients’ needs are becoming increasingly complex with many looking beyond single strategy investment products and traditional balanced portfolios,” Seck said. “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.”

Ooi Boon Peng, chief executive of Eastspring Singapore and Hong Kong, will also head the investment fund strategies team, according to the statement. Kelvin Blacklock, currently CIO of Global Asset Solutions, will head the investment solutions team.

According to a source with direct knowledge of the situation, the creation of a solutions team, focused on providing multi-strategy products to institutional clients, was in response to the growing demand for these types of investments – which, in turn, was a consequence of the increasing volatility of financial markets.

Asked how this would differ from the multi-asset strategy Eastspring already lists on its website, a spokeswoman for the firm said that the multi asset solutions team, which looks at investments in multiple asset classes, will become part of the new investment solutions team.

The new investment fund strategies team “will focus on our single strategy investment capabilities, including equities, fixed income and quantitative strategies”, she added.

The source said the asset manager was not planning to appoint a new CIO after the restructuring. They added that the heads of the two new departments would be collaborating closely with the CIOs of the various investment teams, such as equities, fixed-income, multi-strategy and quantitative.

The restructuring comes five months after Wai-Kwong Seck was appointed chief executive. He succeeded Guy Strapp, who retired after 12 years with the firm.

The source said the operations of the alternatives team, which the firm created in 2017 by integrating its private equity and infrastructure businesses, would not be affected by the new structure. But according to the spokeswoman, it will become part of the new investment solutions team.

In 2017, the firm committed $500 million to the International Finance Corporation‘s MCPP Infrastructure Programme, which is targeting the power, water, transport and telecommunications sectors in developing countries.

It is unclear if it has invested in any other infrastructure funds and the spokeswoman declined to provide details about the asset manager’s infrastructure portfolio, including its value, target allocations or geographic/sectoral focus.

As of September 2018, Eastspring’s AUM stood at $195 billion, according to its website.