London-based hedge fund manager CQS plans to launch an Asian-focused fund at the beginning of May 2007.

The CQS Asia Fund will be a US dollar-denominated absolute-return fund targeting 15%-plus returns. The fund will focus on convertible bond and equity strategies, investing across Asia with a volatility bias.

Jean-Christophe Blanc, who has been head of Asia convertible bonds at the flagship $3.7 flagship CQS Fund since 2002, will work on the new fund with a team of 11 based in London and Hong Kong.

Investor participation in the new fund will initially likely come from international investors, with follow-on interest potentially coming from local investors.

The fund will target assets of around $250 million to $300 million by the end of this year. With several weeks still to go before launch, information about fund assets at the start-up is not available yet.

Fees are likely to be in the 2% and 20% range, and there will be a lock-up whose terms are still to be revealed. CQS was unable to disclose fund volatility and envisaged gross/net positions. Whilst it could confirm that leverage would be used, the precise leverage policy was also not revealed. The managers also prefer not to reveal the identity of their service providers at this point.

The Hong Kong office of CQS was established in 2005 by Brian Pohli and now has a staff of nine. It has type 4 and type 9 licenses in place. CQS thinks that this is a good time to launch its strategy in Asia, as local markets are at a sufficient stage of maturity to accommodate the borrow requirements, liquidity and effective hedging demanded of running a strategy like this.

CQS was founded in 1999 by Michael Hintze, who remains CIO. He formerly ran convertible bonds at Credit Suisse First Boston and before then was at Salomon Brothers and Goldman Sachs. In addition to the CQS Fund, a number of other funds are managed by CQS, most notably the $900 million CSA fund which focuses on capital structure arbitrage.