NETHERLANDS/ASIA - ING has appointed a regional veteran to head its Asian fund management operations against growing international competition for regional talent.

Richard Price, former China country manager and current interim regional head, will take over the regional CEO role permanently.

ING REIM CEO David Blight, who announced last month that he is to leave the firm, described Price as "the ideal candidate" because he brought "both international and local knowledge" to the role.

Price told IPE Real Estate: "It was a compelling reason to return to a dynamic part of the world, working with a team I have respect for. I'd happily have stayed in the US but this was a real opportunity for me."

His appointment is unlikely to herald any change in the group's regional strategy. Price's immediate focus will be on growing the business. "We have ambitious growth targets and support for them from our international clients," he said.

"The removal of uncertainty helps put clients' minds at rest. It also gives the team clarity - they know where the buck stops."

ING's property equity management subsidiary, ING Clarion, announced last week that it had appointed investment analysts in Asia and London. Hong Kong- based investment analyst Erik Lang joins from LaSalle, where  he specialised in Australian and Canadian listed property companies.
The Asian Public Real Estate Association (APREA), which represents the listed sector, in March launched a certification programme for regional real estate investors. Skills and resources are a problem all over the world, especially in Asia," APREA CEO Peter Mitchell told IPE Real Estate at the time.

However, Price last week played down the regional talent shortage.  "Plenty of people are able to learn quickly but I've worked in Asia before, which helps a great deal because it means you get up to speed quicker," he said.