Aberdeen to build fixed-income team in Malaysia

The UK fund manager has made its first fixed-income investment hire in Kuala Lumpur, and two more are imminent.

Aberdeen Asset Management is expanding its regional fixed-income investment team to Malaysia. Fixed-income strategist Suhaila Suboh started in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month, and she will be joined in three to six months by two analysts, one for credit and one for macro and interest rates.

“Our Asian equity business has been successful in raising money for regional equity products,” says Anthony Michael, Asia head of currency and fixed income in Singapore. “We now see the chance to win some mandates from investors who want to diversify into fixed income.”

The Malaysia team’s first priority will be to help manage existing portfolios for existing clients, he tells AsianInvestor. The second priority will be to build a local client base that is interested in investing not only in Malaysia, but also in regional and global products.

Aberdeen wants to create both conventional and sharia fixed-income products. The firm already offers Islamic products on the equity side, says Michael, so it makes sense to hire people with expertise in sukuk (Islamic bonds) and sharia-compliant finance.

Suboh will help develop and manage conventional and sharia-compliant funds for Malaysia. She will work alongside Aberdeen’s 13-strong Asian fixed-income team and will be based in Kuala Lumpur for the first six months. How she splits her time after that will depend in part on how the firm's expansion plans materialise.

She has been hired not only for her fixed-income strategy expertise, says Michael, but also for her contacts and ability to help build a fixed-income team in Kuala Lumpur.

Suboh most recently spent four years doing research and advising on investment strategy for the investment-management supervision department of Malaysia’s Securities Commission. Before that she was an economist at Bank Negara Malaysia, the country’s central bank.

Suboh has also worked on mergers and acquisitions at investment bank Rothschild in New York, and in London, where she was on attachment to Aberdeen’s emerging-market debt team.

The firm’s existing team in Malaysia manages $1.8 billion in domestically sourced assets, invested in local, regional and global equities. Aberdeen invests about $1 billion in Malaysian fixed income, $620 million of which is in local-currency bonds managed from Singapore, with some also allocated from the emerging-market debt portfolio in London.

Some $98 billion of Aberdeen’s $300.5 billion in global assets are in Asia-Pacific. Around $21 billion of that $98 billion is invested in fixed income in Asia-Pacific, mainly Australia fixed income, managed out of Singapore, Sydney and Bangkok; $6.8 billion of that is ex-Australia assets.

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