Eurasian JV to launch nine Ucits funds in Asia push

AZ Athenaeum plans to sell the products to accredited investors in Singapore as it strives to build its capabilities as a wealth manager in what it sees as underserved market segments.
Eurasian JV to launch nine Ucits funds in Asia push

Eurasian joint-venture AZ Athenaeum is in the process of launching nine Ucits funds in Singapore as part of an expansion drive, the company is set to announce.

The products, which have been registered with the Lion City's regulator, will be available to accredited investors in Singapore. But AZ Athenaeum, formed late last year between Singaporean fund house Athenaeum and Italian asset manager Azimut, declined to give a timetable for the launches.

“We are a manager of money and plan to become a manager of wealth," said Marco Cora, deputy managing director at AZ Athenaeum and Azimut's representative at the JV.

He added that AZ Athenaeum was aiming to tap segments of the market that it believes are under-served. “If you are not very wealthy, the big banks are not interested,” said Cora. “These clients are not receiving bespoke services. Probably they feel they deserve more interaction with managers.”

News of the launches comes just over a week after Luxembourg Fund Industry chairman Marc Saluzzi called for European and Asian regulators to work together closely to ensure Asia’s three pending passporting schemes complement rather than compete with Ucits funds.

Long-only Athenaeum was set up in 1999 by managing director Madeleine Lee to advise family offices, endowments, foundations and high-net-worth individuals.

It runs two actively managed Asia ex-Japan funds: an equity/fixed income dividend product, launched in October 2012, and an equity-only small-cap focused product, launched in 2008.

Eight of the new funds are Ucits versions of existing Azimut funds, and one, an Asia absolute product, is a Ucits clone of Athenaeum’s total returns Asia strategy. The other funds are a European balanced fund of equities, bonds and money-market instruments; an Italian multi-asset fund; a European consumer-brands fund; a renminbi active duration management fund; a European corporate bond product; an offshore RMB short-term bond fund; a global insurance catastrophe bond; and a sukuk fund focused on government and investment-grade securities.

Since March, the JV has hired four team members, taking Athenaeum’s headcount to eight, including Cora. It is currently in the hiring markets seeking business development staff.

The firm targets risk-adjusted total return with low volatility. Cora argued that index investing was good for investors “only if they are investing for 20 years. You need to have some form of active management in your portfolio if you want to optimise your returns,” he added.

With equities and investment-grade bonds delivering such low yields, Cora said AZ Athenaeum’s approach has been to buy more complex securities, such as catastrophe bonds and hybrid bonds.

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