US asset manager BlackRock announced yesterday that it has launched a new platform of Hong Kong-domiciled funds.

It is rolling out three of its so-called BlackRock Premier Funds to begin with, all of which are passive and will track the FTSE MPF index series. Thereafter it will look to house a variety of funds on its platform, both active and passive and focused on equities, fixed income and commodities.

BlackRock launched its Hong Kong Equity Index Fund yesterday, while its China Equity Index Fund and Asia ex-Japan Equity Index Fund do not yet have a time-frame to begin trading, Kevin Hardy, BlackRock's Asia-Pacific head of beta strategies, tells AsianInvestor.

BlackRock is targeting Hong Kong institutions and retail investors for these funds, says Hardy, noting that eventually, the firm may consider rolling out platforms for investors around Asia. “We won’t rule anything out,” he adds, declining to elaborate further.

AsianInvestor reported exclusively on the $3.9 trillion asset manager’s plans last November, roughly at the same time that Franklin Templeton introduced its own Hong Kong unit-trust platform and just two months before Amundi revealed plans for its own fund range.

Discussions between Hong Kong and Chinese authorities over a cross-border mutual fund recognition scheme have led to suggestions that Hong Kong-domiciled funds will be given priority over Ucits products, for example, in gaining approval for sale on the mainland.

There is a “lot of conversations around the mutual recognition programme” now, Hardy notes, adding that BlackRock is “watching this progress with bated breath”.

“We look forward to what that brings,” he adds. “Obviously there could be a whole other audience that could utilise these funds. But our principle focus is our Hong Kong clients and prospects.” 

The firm is also in discussions with its existing distributors, and anticipates partnering new ones in the near future, he notes.