Barings targets new launches after Korea buyout

The UK fund house sees appetite for emerging market exposure, particularly China, and multi-asset allocation after completing its acquisition of SEI Asset Korea.
Barings targets new launches after Korea buyout


UK-based Baring Asset Management is looking to launch new products for Korean institutional and retail investors after completing its acquisition of SEI Asset Korea.

Having been announced last August, the deal was expected to go through by the end of last year, as reported, but was only finalised last Friday, March 29.

The new entity, Baring Asset Management Korea, now has $7.4 billion in AUM and 49 staff, led by chief executive Thae Sum Khwarg. Barings notes the whole operation and team has moved across.

Ian Pascal, London-based head of marketing and communications at Barings, says official approval of the transaction means that three funds it has brought to the market – high-yield bonds, Asean frontiers and China select – are now registered and active.

It is understood further launch plans include emerging market equity and fixed income funds, specifically more China product, pending regulatory sign-off. Asset allocation products, including multi-asset, are also likely.

Barings has previously pointed to growing appetite for global risk assets from a long-term perspective in Korea as a diversification from the domestic market.

SEI Asset Korea’s offering was predominantly institutional. It had 15 public funds, which are due to be rebranded under Barings "shortly", says Pascal. Approximately 80% of its assets are institutional, managed on a segregated basis with a mix of actively managed domestic equity and fixed income. Its clients were largely pension and insurance companies.

Pascal notes that despite its institutional dealings, SEI Korea had relationships with the major distributors. He adds that Barings will be targeting both institutional and retail clients in future.

“Barings has been in Korea in various guises for a long time,” he says. “The focus of the past few months has been on getting this business established. Now we will look to build the brand and reputation.”

UBS investment bank acted as financial adviser to Barings in the transaction, and Goldman Sachs as financial adviser to SEI Asset Korea. Financial details were not disclosed.

Barings also has an Asia presence in Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and Pascal confirms it has no further acquisition plans.

SEI Asset Korea was the 19th largest firm of 82 asset managers registered in Korea at the time of the acquisition. It was founded in 1988 as Tong Yang Investment Advisory and merged with Korea Asset in 1997.

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