Top GEAM fund manager quits to start own business

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 11:15pm


A top China-focused fund manager at GE Asset Management has quit to start his own business in China.

Zhou Ping, who was managing director for Greater China - including the mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan - resigned recently, sources familiar with the matter said.

One of the sources said Zhou would most likely stay in financial circles but 'do something on his own'.

Zhou declined to comment on Tuesday.

He helped GEAM invest in China-related assets through Beijing's Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (QFII) scheme and other offshore platforms. He had more than US$3 billion under his management, including US$1 billion related to Chinese stocks and capital markets.

GEAM has more than US$120 billion under its management worldwide, according to the company's website.

Zhou, who served in the Chinese air force and then went to the United States to study in the early 1990s, is expected to launch a fund that will still focus on Chinese equities and capital markets, according to the sources.

Zhou began his financial career at State Street, a major US-based asset management company, before moving to GEAM. He climbed the corporate ladder until reaching the firm's top position for investments in China's capital markets.

Zhou is part of a wave of career changes for veteran financial professionals in recent years.

Since the 2008 global financial crisis that started on Wall Street, more professional executives at leading international financial institutions have started their own business. Just a few weeks ago, Frank Tang, a former senior executive at Temasek and Goldman Sachs, raised more than US$1 billion for his second China-dedicated private equity fund.

GEAM manages several pension funds for parent company General Electric employees, as well as GE clients' money.

The legendary American company began its business in the late 1800s as its founder, the inventor Thomas Edison, put some of his inventions into practice.

GEAM is one of the few QFII players on the mainland. In 2007, it received a US$200 million QFII investment quota from Chinese regulators and in 2010, under Zhou's leadership, the firm received an additional US$150 million quota.

In a 2009 interview with China Business News, Zhou noted that between 2002 and 2009, GEAM's annual return from its investment in China's capital markets averaged more than 26 per cent. He also noted that his China fund portfolio usually included about 50 stocks.