Martin Currie Investment Management, the Edinburgh-based equities manager, is looking for a country head to open an Australian office.

The move is the latest in a string of searches by offshore funds managers which have decided to expand their Australian sales efforts through either a dedicated office or a third-party marketing arrangement. Bank of America subsidiary, Columbia Asset Management, was revealed in I&T News last month to be looking for a head of funds management sales to launch its presence in Australia. JP Morgan Asset Management also announced last month that it had opened an Australian office, in Melbourne, with the appointment of Peter Horn as head of institutional business. And another Edinburgh-based firm, Standard Life, launched an Australian office with a range of international funds mid-way through last year. Third-party marketers have also reported in recent months an increase in requests for local representation for US and European-based traditional and alternatives firms. Martin Currie already has a small Australian client base, which includes mandates from Telstra Super and QIC. It is best known in Australia for its emerging markets and Asian equities capabilities but also has a full range of global and regional services, as well as hedge funds. The firm is understood to have appointed a specialist recruitment firm to search for the Australian country head. The expansion into Australia is being overseen in Edinburgh by Andy Sowerby, Martin Currie’s managing director of marketing, distribution and product management. Martin Currie has about $US30 billion under management (as at last September). The 125-year-old firm is still majority owned by management and staff, however, last year two external investors took a total of 25 per cent in the firm – the US investment firm of Crestview Partners with 17.43 per cent and the private investor Lord (Jacob) Rothschild with 7.47 per cent. Crestview had earlier in the year raised about $US1.5 billion for investments in funds management firms around the world.