Ares hires UBS executive director for Asia push

Michael Chen spent more than five years at the Swiss bank’s asset management arm, leading institutional relationship activities.

Michael Chen, a former executive director and head of institutional client coverage for Greater China Offshore at UBS Asset Management, joined Los Angeles-headquartered investment management firm Ares Management this month.

His departure from the Swiss financial group at the end of January was confirmed by a UBS spokesman in Hong Kong. Chen spent more than five years at UBS, where he led business development, client servicing and consultant relationship activities in the region, his profile on Ares’ website shows.

He becomes a Hong Kong-based principal and relationship manager for Asia, which is part of Ares’ relationship management group.

The UBS spokesman also confirmed to PDI that as of 1 February, Benno Klingenberg-Timm, a Singapore-based head of APAC sovereign clients, assumed Chen’s responsibilities. Klingenberg-Timm reports to Willem van Breugel, a London-based head of global sovereign markets. Together, they oversee the institutional business in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Prior to UBS, Chen was a senior manager for institutional marketing activities at Invesco, an Atlanta-headquartered investment management firm, where he focused on client and consultant relationships across Hong Kong, Korea and South-East Asia. Chen began his career in financial services at AMP Capital Investors, where he held various roles in business development and client relationships.

Ares has been ramping up its investment strategies and product offerings across asset classes, with a focus on corporate credit investments. Within the credit strategy, US direct lending, European direct lending and syndicated loans accounted for 87 percent of its $95.9 billion total credit group AUM as of 31 December 2018.

On the investment operating side, Ares’ private equity group expanded into Asia in 2010 with the launch of its first China growth fund.

On the fundraising side, the firm is backed by some of the largest institutions in the region. South Korea’s National Pension Service is known as an existing LP in its private equity investment strategy, as per the pension fund’s public disclosure of March 2017.

PDI data show that two other Asian insurance firms are working with Ares. Taipei-headquartered Cathay Life Insurance committed €60 million to Ares Capital Europe IV, its fourth European direct lending fund, and Taiwan Life Insurance also committed €30 million to Fund IV. Ares held a final close on the fund in July 2018 on €6.5 billion.

The firm’s first senior direct lending fund series, Ares Senior Direct Lending Fund, was launched in August 2018, according to a regulatory filing. The firm announced on 2 January that the vehicle held a final close on $3 billion in total capital commitments, exceeding its initial target of $2 billion. Ares managed about $130.7 billion in assets as of 31 December.