As of today, Edmond de Rothschild Asset Management (EdR AM) will distribute funds in Taiwan through its new master agent, Manulife Asset Management. Horizon Security Investing Consultant Co had been EdR AM's previous master agent since early last year.

In Taiwan, a fund house needs a securities investment trust enterprise (Site) licence if it is to manufacture products, then a securities investment consulting licence that allows it to arrange onshore distribution relationships with wholesale distributors. Otherwise, as in this case, it requires a master agent to act on its behalf in selling offshore funds.

EdR AM plans to promote two particular funds more heavily in Taiwan: its flagship China fund, Saint-Honoré Chine; and its M&A/restructuring themed fund, Saint-Honoré Europe Synergie. The former is already the company's most popular fund in Taiwan, and has gained 20.16% in the six months to April 16 (in euro) as against 12.68% for the MSCI China index.

Saint-Honoré Europe Synergie picks companies that are likely to be M&A targets or candidates for restructuring and has been attracting a lot of interest from institutions, says Hong Kong-based marketing manager Bryan Chen.

The firm has six funds registered in Taiwan, the other four being: Saint-Honoré Convertibles, Europe Rendement, Saint-Honoré Europe Midcaps and Saint-Honoré Inde.

And EdR AM plans to launch more, says Lavin Mok, the firm's newly hired Hong Kong-based head of Asia sales. He would not disclose any specific names of funds or target AUM, apart from to say that the company would like to have at least 10 funds registered there by the end of the year.

The firm does, however, plan to launch thematic funds on the island, he says. It already offers mining, healthcare and ecology-sector funds, among others. Such sector-focused products would be of interest, says Mok, particularly as the Taiwanese market has relatively few compared to Europe, the US or elsewhere in Asia.

EdR AM also plans to tap the institutional business in Taipei, and has at least one mandate in the pipeline. Mok says there should be a deal in place in the next few months.

Taiwan is one of the four markets Mok identified recently as being a major focus in Asia for the firm, alongside Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore.

Manulife has had a presence as a master agent since September and now has nine offshore funds on the platform. The firm has had a Site licence in place since 2008, following its acquisition of Fuhwa Securities Investment Trust.