Australian Unity has teamed up with an ex-Bear Stearns Asia executive and the Hong Kong-based founder of APAC Capital to launch an Asian equities boutique named Seres Asset Management, based in Hong Kong.

The boutique is a joint venture between Australian Unity Investments and the key investment principals, Evan Erlanson and Ken Lu.

Erlanson, who was previously a senior managing director at Bear Stearns Asia where he acted as head of Asian telecommunications, media and technology research from 2001 until the firm’s collapse in 2008, will be Seres’ chief investment officer.

He has worked as an analyst and portfolio manager for Goldman Sachs Asset Management in Singapore, and founded a boutique investment research business – Enlightenment Media, in Hong Kong in 2000. Erlanson speaks fluent Mandarin.

Lu, who will be senior portfolio manager, was founder and managing director of APAC Capital, an investment management company focussing on the Greater China markets. He has also worked as a research analyst for JP Morgan and Credit Suisse and was head of China research at Credit Suisse for three years, directing the firm’s China research products.

The name Seres has its origins in ancient Greek, and refers to the people who lived in the Northern part of China on the ‘silk roads’.

David Bryant, head of AUI, said these people were known to be honourable and trustworthy and demonstrated both harmony and openness in how they worked with others.

He said the global financial crisis freed up a lot of talent, and AUI had seized what he believed was a “fairly small window” to capture this talent.

“Evan and I have mutual colleagues in the industry and we’ve met a couple of times over the last few years,” he said. “Evan similarly knew Ken and the establishment of the business grew out of two things, one; it’s always something I see as part of my job particularly given our business model to make sure I stay in touch with people in the industry generally and as you get to know them you quickly work out where you think the talent is.

“And secondly through that network when opportunities come up to do business ventures with people… you take those opportunities. From the global financial crisis one of the things that occurred that I think’s going to be a fairly small window is some extraordinarily talented people, because the global investment banks closed down businesses somewhat indiscriminately… there was an opportunity to use that network just to say to people ‘have you thought about perhaps looking to do something for yourself’. It was a long discussion over 15 months but it’s one that proved very worthwhile.”

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