HONG KONG--RLM Finsbury, the new financial PR outfit formed by the merger of two WPP firms, has hired FD veteran Alastair Hetherington to lead its launch in Asia.

Hetherington joins RLM Finsbury after spending 12 years at FD, including the past six as one of the founder members of the agency’s Asian HQ in Hong Kong. As MD of FD China, Hetherington specialised in investor relations, M&A and crisis management, also overseeing the firm’s regional operations.

He is the latest in a series of senior departures from FD's Asian operation. The agency parted ways with former Asia CEO Diana Footitt last year. Footitt left following FD’s decision to merge its Asian operations with Australian acquisition FD Third Person; the latter agency’s senior executives also took control of FD in Asia-Pacific.

Earlier this year, FD Singapore director Laurel Teo left the firm for boutique consultancy Watatawa. In April, FD appointed veteran journalist and PR man Ray Bashford as Asia chairman, overseeing Hong Kong, Mainland China and Singapore.

Hetherington begins his new role this week and will remain based in Hong Kong, after RLM Finsbury announced last month that it would launch an office in the city in the third quarter of this year. He reports into London-based partner and COO James Murgatroyd and senior partner/founder Roland Rudd.

WPP’s merger of UK City PR heavyweight Finsbury and US counterpart Robinson Lerer Montgomery is being viewed as an overt attempt to create a global financial firm, at a time when cross-border capability in corporate and financial PR is becoming increasingly critical. It is understood that the firm will aim to open further offices in Beijing and Singapore.

Prior to joining FD in Hong Kong, Hetherington launched FD’s office in Athens in 2003, in advance of the 2004 Olympic Games. His client experience in Asia includes a number of landmark deals for such clients as AIA, Air China, China Unicom, Galaxy Entertainment Group, Korea Exchange and Lotte Shopping.