The top 300 institutional investors in Asia Pacific only notched up a small increase in assets under management (AUM) in 2016 as market volatility, low interest rates and the beginnings of a reverse in bond yields stymied a better performance, AsianInvestor’s latest AI300 survey shows.

The annual survey, now in its 15th year, ranks the leading 300 asset owners in the Asia Pacific region by AUM. What it reveals this year is that the region's leading institutional investors had a combined AUM of $36.78 trillion at the end of the reporting period, up 3.4% when compared to the previous year's $35.54 trillion total.

The small rise is still a good result given that the AUM of the top-300 investors fell slightly last time around, from $36.6 trillion at the end of 2014.

Still, while asset owners as a whole saw their asset numbers improve, the region's biggest players struggled to march in tandem. This year’s top 10 are the same institutions as last year but their combined AUM barely shifted, inching upwards over 2016 to $13.86 trillion from $13.85 trillion.

Six of the top 10 increased their assets over this period, while the other four experienced asset falls.

That includes the People’s Bank of China, whose AUM slipped to $3.05 trillion from $3.19 trillion in last year’s survey. It has seen its asset base deteriorate as a result of its efforts to manage the deteriorating value of the renminbi, which has weakened from Rmb6.5634 to the dollar a year ago to Rmb6.7969 today.

However, the Chinese central bank remains the top institutional investor in the region, possessing more than twice the $1.48 trillion AUM held by second-ranked Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. ICBC’s assets had risen from $1.45 trillion in 2016.

China, Japan dominate

The largest asset owners in the region continue to hail from either China or Japan. However, the recent fortunes of the two countries’ investors stand in stark contrast to each other.

The AUM of investors based in China have gradually improved on the back of its expanding economy, while those of Japanese institutions have deteriorated in line with the country’s slowly growing economy.

Three of the four Japanese institutional investors in the top 10 suffered from eroding asset bases, whereas only PBOC experienced this fate among the six Chinese organisations that make up the rest.  

One of the most notable victims of this effect was Japan Post Bank. Its AUM fell from $1.48 trillion to $1.4 trillion, pushing it from second into third place. It now sits marginally above fourth-ranked Agricultural Bank of China, which enjoyed a 3.8% increase in AUM to $1.36 trillion.

Bank of Japan also dropped one place in the AI300, from sixth to seventh, as its AUM fell to $1.23 trillion from $1.25 trillion, while China Construction Bank’s AUM rose nearly 5% to $1.26 trillion.

AsianInvestor will release the full AI300 rankings in our coming June/July edition of the magazine, including statistical breakdowns by sector and market. Look out for more details soon. 

AI300: The top 10
2017 2016 Institution Date Market Category 2017 AUM ($m) 2016 AUM ($m)
1 1 People's Bank of China May 2017 China Central bank 3,053,567 3,190,000
2 2 Industrial & Commercial Bank of China March 2017 China Commercial bank 1,480,913 1,451,858
3 5 Japan Post Bank September 2016 Japan Commercial bank 1.396,337 1,481,419
4 3 Agricultural Bank of China March 2017 China Commercial bank 1,361,981 1,311,500
5 6 Government Pension Investment Fund September 2016 Japan Pension fund 1,306,122 1,336,122
6 7 China Construction Bank March 2017 China Commercial bank 1,255,537 1,196,192
7 4 Bank of Japan March 2017 Japan Central bank 1,230,330 1,253,967
8 9 Bank of China March 2017 China Commercial bank 1,158,303 1,055,641
9 10 Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ September 2016 Japan Commercial bank 878,103 833,572
10 11 China Investment Corporation December 2015 China Sovereign wealth fund 743,268 739,075