Taiwan’s Bureau of Labour Insurance informed fund-management companies yesterday if they had made its shortlist for a $600 million mandate to run portfolios of global equities, according to people familiar with the competition.

Fund execs say about 50 firms responded to the BLI’s request for proposals, released in July, as reported by AsianInvestor.

The eight finalists are reportedly: Amundi; BlackRock; Harding Loevner, a non-US equities boutique in the Affiliated General Managers stable; Harris Investments, a multi-asset unit of BMO Financial; JP Morgan Asset Management; MFS Investment Management; PanAgora Asset Management; and Schroder Investment Management.

The next step is likely to see the NT$418 billion ($13.7 billion) BLI select three of the eight to run mandates of approximately $200 million each. The timetable is unknown, as such decisions can take a while to move through governmental bureaucracy.

Executives involved in the pitch say the process has been professional. Unlike some previous mandates in Taiwan, the BLI seems intent on picking best in class, and has not put any ostensible emphasis on ‘bells and whistles’ such as training or service requirements, and it hasn't demanded a security deposit be placed in escrow up front.

In fact, its shortlist includes boutiques along with brand names, and firms that don’t have reps on the ground in Taipei.

This is not BLI’s first foray into global equities. It already manages nearly $2 billion in the asset class, both in-house and via a mandate run by Wellington that goes back to 2004. Janus Capital and Vontobel also run BLI money in global and emerging market equities, respectively. This will be its first additional set of mandates in nearly five years.