Fox-Pitt, Kelton, an investment bank and research company based in Britain, has set up a regional office in Hong Kong as it takes its first steps into Asia. Chairman Anthony Hamilton said the group decided to move into Asia due to the region's positive economic prospects. 'We believe that the economic crisis and structural changes in Asian financial services offer tremendous opportunities for Fox-Pitt, Kelton,' Mr Hamilton said. He said before the Asian crisis, the demand for research in Asian companies was not great because the region's strong growth made it easy for Asian companies to receive foreign capital injections. However, since the crisis, investors had taken a more cautious approach to Asian companies, while the hardest-hit firms needed to find buyers or investors willing to supply a lifeline. Mr Hamilton said that in such situations, many potential buyers would need in-depth research to enable them to make the right decision about future acquisitions. 'Our office in Hong Kong will allow us a freer hand in conducting research on Asian banks and insurance companies, and meet the increasing demand from international corporations seeking to make acquisitions in the region,' he said. Established in 1971, Fox-Pitt, Kelton became a wholly owned subsidiary of Swiss Re in 1999. The company handles matters for institutional clients such as pension funds, large corporations, or fund managers. It also acts as an investment adviser in mergers and acquisitions. Fox-Pitt, Kelton has also taken part in share offerings by institutions such as AXA, Fortis, Deutsche Bank, Manulife and Munich Re. Chris Wheeler, managing director of Fox-Pitt, Kelton, said Hong Kong was chosen because many important banks and insurance companies in the region are in North Asia - and all are close to Hong Kong. Also, Mr Wheeler said China was expected to open its financial market after its accession into the World Trade Organisation, so the Hong Kong office could act as a springboard into the mainland once the liberalisation began. 'We are confident that our specialised services would meet with the opportunities in the region arising from the opening up of the China market,' he said, adding the firm would like to invest in the China market for the long-term. 'Our focus in Asia is to not only further develop and strengthen this aspect of our business but also to provide specialist merger and acquisition advice to financial sector companies in the region.'