Baring Asset Management will launch a new equity multi-strategy absolute return fund on March 1.

Named the Baring Asia Strategic Fund, it will be available in dollar and euro classes. The fund is domiciled in Ireland and will be listed on the Irish Stock Exchange. Target size after one year is $250 million.

The fund will be managed by Baring Asset ManagementÆs Asian equity team led by Adrian Au. He joined Baring in July 2007 from Hamon Investment Group, where he managed Asian and Greater China equity portfolios. Before then, he worked at Morgan Stanley managing absolute-return portfolios.

The new fund focuses on non-Japan Asian equities, including Australasia and India. The strategy consists of thematic, directional, arbitrage, event driven and pairs trading.

The new fund has a target return of 20% with a maximum volatility of 15%, and the portfolio will consist of approximately 50 equity positions with an aim of being beta neutral. Gross exposure is projected at 150%-200% and net exposure at 10%-20%.

The fund has a management fee of 1.75% and a performance fee of 20% with a high watermark.

Service providers are Goldman Sachs as prime broker and Northern Trust as custodian and administrator.

In one further removal from its once royally connected British pedigree, Baring Asset Management was sold by ING Group to MassMutual Financial Group in March 2005, a vehicle of the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company.