Global $221bn manager hires BlackRock exec for new Australian office

A global investment manager headquarted in Zurich has appointed the head of wealth for BlackRock's local iShares business to lead an expansion into the Australian market.

Alex Zaika will become managing director for Australia at GAM Investments, which already manages $5.2 billion for local wholesale and institutional clients. In this role, which commences on July 23, Zaika will build out GAM's Australian operations in Sydney and report to GAM head of Asia, Rossen Djounov.

Zaika took on the head of wealth role at BlackRock in September 2016, having joined the company a year earlier. Prior to this, he worked in investor solutions at Barclays Capital and was also head of adviser sales - equity derivatives at Macquarie Bank.

Djounov said: "The strengthening of our distribution team in Australia underlines our commitment to provide the best service to our clients, meeting their needs in the ever-changing market environment. I am very excited to welcome Alex to the team."

Separately GAM was also awarded a $135 million mandate for its systematic alternative risk premia strategies by AMP Capital.

AMP Capital portfolio manager Celine Kabashima explained: "GAM Systematic Alternative Risk Premia plays an important part of our absolute return program by providing our portfolios with diversification benefits against traditional asset classes and attractive risk-adjusted returns in a liquid and cost-efficient manner."

"The strategy acts as a complement to our existing suite of absolute return and risk premia strategies. It also offers a solution with a higher volatility profile that meets the objectives of our portfolios," Kabashima said.

GAM is also transitioning out of its 14-year third-party marketing agreement with Shed Enterprises as part of the Australian expansion.

"Australia is a very important and growing market for GAM, and the decision to expand our presence here is a natural consequence of our desire to be closer to our clients," GAM group head of sales and distribution Tim Rainsford said.

"Having a local team will enable GAM to better serve our clients' needs and further expand our footprint in Australia, where we have already seen significant success marketing our absolute return bond and alternative risk premia strategies."

This article was updated at 3.13pm.

Read more: AustraliaBlackRockAlternative Risk PremiaGlobaliSharesZurichAlex ZaikaAsiaBarclays CapitalCeline KabashimaGAM InvestmentsMacquarie BankRossen DjounovShed EnterprisesSydneyTim Rainsford
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