THE Shandwick PR group has appointed a new chief executive to its Hong Kong subsidiary, Gibson Public Relations. Michael Murphy, who previously ran Shandwick's operation in Scotland, has taken over from Gibson managing director Ian Rumgay, who will return to Britain at the end of the year to become director of international marketing for the group. Shandwick chairman Peter Gummer said: ''Michael's appointment is absolutely central to making our Hong Kong and Singapore offices the core of our regional set up in the Asia-Pacific.'' The region generated between 15 and 20 per cent of Shandwick's overall business, Mr Gummer said. About 20 per cent of the Hong Kong business was China-related. ''We are looking to move on from successful affiliate partnerships in China to a more direct presence. With Western economies beginning to grow out of recession, our clients are looking to exploit the potential of the Chinese marketplace,'' he said. He said Mr Murphy had already drawn up a paper detailing four or five options for future development in Asia and decisions would be made within the next few months. Mr Gummer said: ''The Chinese are far more sophisticated than most people give them credit for. ''There is a rapidly growing understanding of crisis and issue management, and, in some regards, I would say they are often more advanced than Western companies.'' Mr Gummer said Shandwick's was using a long-term growth strategy. He said it was unlike other firms which only opened a new office when a client wanted to move into a new market. Shandwick has 85 offices and associate offices in 16 countries. It ranks in the top three of public relations groups worldwide.