Asiya Investments, a Hong Kong-based fund manager with roots in the Middle East, has doubled its assets since the start of 2014 to over $1 billion, as it looks to broaden its reach to a global investor base.
Founded in 2005, Asiya – Arabic for Asia – last year ran more than $500 million across public and private equity, real estate and fixed-income strategies.
Earlier this year it received two significant mandates to its public equity funds, which has helped raise its hedge fund assets under management to more than $150 million.
Asiya manages the Panda and Gateway funds, both long/short equity strategies invested in 10 markets across Asia ex-Japan and frontier markets.
The hedge fund team, led by Daniel Xystus, also manages the long-only Phoenix strategy which invests in the same countries and exchanges as Panda and Gateway. All three funds use a proprietary quantitative methodology to select stocks.
While Asiya’s initial focus was to act as a bridge for investments between the Middle East and emerging Asia, it is near to closing on an investment from a US institutional investor, says Ahmad Al-Hamad, group managing director*. “We also believe our products should have a global audience."
Public equity accounts for two-thirds of Asiya’s assets under management, with private equity and other private investment comprising the remainder.
Asiya has invested in a number of PE fund managers, and runs a private investment platform for doing direct PE deals in emerging Asian markets.
Its direct PE deals include India private equity in public entity – or PIPE – investments that have been structured deals made alongside other general partners.
Asiya has additionally led a buyout of a Manila-based company that provides modular fabrication services in the oil and gas sector, and an investment in a children’s clothing manufacturer in India called Lilliput Kids.
Asiya’s PE unit is focused on five sectors that it believes will drive the Asian growth story: financial services, real estate, energy, infrastructure and the consumer sector.
“These encompass a large swathe of the Asian economy,” says Al-Hamad. “We have dedicated teams for each sector, which enables us to understand them and focus upon opportunities.”
While Asiya’s PE investment platform was initially designed to provide direct investment opportunities in Asia to its Middle Eastern clients, the firm’s long-term goal is to also facilitate investment flows from Asia to Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
“Over time, we’d like to see Asian investors take a greater in interest in opportunities in the Middle East,” says Al-Hamad. “Since we launched our Hong Kong office in 2012, we have been able to establish relationships with investors in Asia and, in particular, access to family offices in the region. We hope to be a resource they look to for advice on investments in the Middle East.”
Parts of Asia and the Middle East have similar demographic structures, with young populations that are increasingly better educated and more sophisticated. Thus there was the potential for certain brands and services to be marketed across both regions, says Al-Hamad.
*A full version of this interview is running in the May edition of AsianInvestor magazine.