Avex Asia, the Hong Kong-based subsidiary of Japan's Avex Group, has established a film production armto be headed by former Applause Pictures executive Esther Koo.

Koo, who has been named headof film development, will be responsible for generating film productions in Hong Kong, China, Korea and Japan. Based in Hong Kong, she willreport to Buddy Marini, managing director of Avex Asia.

Avex, a Japanese music groupthat has branched out into multimedia, has previously invested in Hong Kong films such as Initial D and Confession Of Pain, both directed byAndrew Lau and Alan Mak, and Japan-China co-production The Longest Night In Shanghai.

The company also recentlyacquired a 20% stake in Beijing-based talent agency and production house,Chengtian Entertainment Group, and plans to establish a joint venture, Avex China, with the company.

Koo was previously vicepresident of distribution at Peter Ho-sun Chan's Applause Pictures where sheoversaw the distribution of films such as PerhapsLove, Eye Infinity and Million Dollar Baby. Prior to that, shewas general manager of Andy Lau's Focus Films.