AUSTRALIA

The A$50 billion ($35.6 billion) Australian superannuation fund, Hesta, has joined the New Zealand-led push to pressure technology giants to take responsibility to remove violent content from their social media platforms more quickly.

The superannuation fund for healthcare industry workers holds shares in Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

Debby Blakey, chief executive for Hesta, said, “We believe we've got a responsibility to invest smartly, to invest with this framework of considering the impact [of the companies the fund invests in].”

Source: Australia Financial Review

HONG KONG

The Mandatory Provident Fund pension system's plans to introduce a new e-platform by 2022 should increase investing choice, the ability to compare fund performance, and could help cut the notoriously high fees charged by MPF fund providers.

The new centralised e-platform is set to offer one-stop services for the 9.6 millionaccount holders, 300,000 employers and 14 trustees, according to Alice Law Shing-mui, the MPF Authority’s deputy chairwoman and managing director. The new platform is forecast to cost HK$3.36 billion ($429 million). The MPF fund had assets worth HK$878 billion under management as of the end of February, while the number of new accounts grew 3% in 2018.

“The e-platform will liberalise consumer rights in a sense that users are no longer a captive audience, and will have access to a more user-friendly pool of data such as comparing products and performance of funds on a screen,” Law said in her first interview since being promoted last year from chief operation officer. “It will also tear down entry barriers for smaller service providers in the market.”

Source: South China Morning Post 

JAPAN

Japan’s Taiyo Life Insurance plans to increase foreign bond holdings in the current financial year through March 2020. The insurer, a unit of T&D Holdings with about ¥7.25 trillion ($64.8 billion) in assets, said it plans to increase holdings of dollar-denominated debt, as well as euro-denominated debt.

The insurer plans to increase its foreign bond holdings by about ¥30 billion this financial year, according to Takahiro Honda, general manager at the investment planning department of Taiyo Life.

In addition the company, which changed its name to Taiju from Mitsui Life this month, also plans to slightly increase investment in domestic bonds, mostly in ultra-long government bonds and subordinated debt issued by banks

Source: Reuters

Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance is looking to invest in higher-yielding bonds of European government agencies this fiscal year, especially as a benevolent monetary policy tilt in many economies has cut returns from foreign sovereign debt.

Fukoku, which had ¥6.63 trillion in total assets as of March, expects to reduce investments in open foreign bonds, or foreign bonds without currency hedging, as there is a risk of the yen strengthening, Yusuke Onodera, general manager of investment planning at Fukoku, said in an interview.

Source: Reuters

Japan’s Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance plans to increase foreign bond holdings with and without currency hedges in the fiscal year through March 2020, a senior company executive said.

The country’s third-largest private life insurer with assets of around ¥38.5 trillion ($349 billion) also said it aims to slightly increase Japanese bond holdings during the period.

Source: Reuters

Japan’s Asahi Mutual Life Insurance intends to increase its foreign bond investment by ¥150 billion ($1.34 billion) and cut its Japanese bonds investment for this fiscal year amid a low-yield domestic environment, a senior company executive said on Tuesday.

The insurer will also invest ¥80 billion in alternative products such as private equity deals and infrastructure funds through Natixis Investment Managers based in Paris.

Source: Reuters

Sumitomo Life Insurance will step up investment in foreign bonds in the financial year ending March 2020, and plans to raise its holdings higher than the previous year’s increase of ¥240 billion ($2.2 billion), a senior executive said.

The firm plans to increase investment in other assets such as foreign stocks and domestic bonds, Toshio Fujimura, head of investment planning department, told reporters at a news conference. The insurer expects the global economy to have a moderate growth and stock prices to climb, boosted partly by accommodative monetary policies by the world’s major central banks, Fujimura said.

Source: Reuters

KOREA

Korea Post’s savings arm plans to invest around $300 million in mezzanine tranches on commercial properties in the US and other developed countries in 2019 for a gross internal rate of return of 7% or above.

It will select about two fund houses for the mandate which can be undertaken either through a commingled fund or a separately managed account (SMA), according to a request for proposal (RFP). Qualified candidates must manage more than $7 billion in real estate assets. For a commingled fund type, the proposed fund size must be at least $500 million. The deadline for the proposals is May 7.

Source: KoreanInvestors

Meanwhile, the insurance unit of Korea Post intends to select two global private debt managers to invest $200 million in direct loans, according to an RFP.

Qualified candidates for the mandate need to be managing a commingled direct lending fund with a minimum size of $500 million as of a proposal submission date and to allocate at least 80% of committed capital to first lien loans. It will commit $100 million to each of them for an investment period of four years which can be extended. Korea Post will receive proposals by April 29 and finalise the selection in June.

Source: KoreanInvestors

ABL Life Insurance, the South Korean subsidiary of China’s Anbang Insurance Group, has committed W50 billion ($44 million) to New York-based real estate specialist Madison Realty Capital’s Debt Fund IV, which is raising $1.1 billion in capital commitments.

With the commitment, ABL Life becomes the first Asian limited partner for the new fund, Paxnet News reported citing investment banking sources. Madison Realty Capital, a real estate-focused private equity firm, announced the final closing of the $1.1 billion debt fund on April 16, saying that the latest fund provides the New York-based firm with over $4.5 billion of capacity to address the needs of its clients.

ABL Insurance, formerly known as Allianz Life Insurance Korea, was acquired by Anbang Insurance Group in 2016.

Source: Paxnet News (In Korean)

Korea’s National Pension Service (NPS) will start to publish an annual report on environmental, social and governance (ESG) practice, said its chief investment officer, Ahn Hyo-joon, on April 18.

The pension fund will revise its ESG related policies and release annual reports on ESG and stewardship code cases, said Ahn in a seminar held by Korea Financial Investment Association and UN PRI in Seoul.

Source: Newsis (In Korean)

MALAYSIA 

The Malaysian government said it would honour all debt payments from the scandal-mired sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, particularly those in the hands of other state-linked asset owners such as Employees Provident Fund and Kwap, according to finance minister Lim Guan Eng. 

"Any bond or loan provided by EPF and Kwap related to 1MDB are guaranteed by the Ministry of Finance (MoF), on behalf of the government," said Lim at a signing ceremony. He did not offer any confirmation on a rumoured plan to convert these debts into equity in the Bandar Malaysia project, a 486 acre development project that was meant to house the terminus of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high speed rail link.

The Edge Financial Daily reported on April 22 that to reduce 1MDB's debt burden, the government is proposing that the RM2.4 billion bonds held by Kwap and Tabung Haji, an Islamic welfare institution, be converted into equity stakes in the Bandar Malaysia project.

Source: The Edge

Sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional closed its London office at the end of March as part of its pivot to cut costs after losing money on offshore investments and a desire to focus more on making Asian investments. 

The decision to shut the fund’s London operations, which has about 10 staff, is within expectations as Khazanah’s new managing director Shahril Ridza Ridzuan had earlier said that he was considering to do so in order to cut operating costs.

One of Khazanah’s notable investments in the European region was London-based augmented reality startup Blippar. The startup had filed for insolvency last December, after Khazanah was alleged to have blocked an emergency fundraising by the startup as the funding round would have diluted its shares. Shahril had also said Khazanah will look to scale down its operations in Turkey.

Source: The Sunday Times, DealStreetAsia

MIDDLE EAST

Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala is looking to invest in Asian startups working in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, semiconductors and aerospace as part of a wider plan to create a technology hub in the United Arab Emirates and diversify its economy.

Mubadala manages some $250 billion in assets and has already invested in Chinese technology startups via Japan’s SoftBank Vision Fund. The Abu Dhabi fund was among the earliest backers of the Vision Fund, with a $15 billion commitment in 2017.

Without giving a specific figure, Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, chief executive of Mubadala, said it will put in more capital and continue to invest through the Vision Fund when expanding its portfolio in Asia.

Source: Nikkei Asian Review

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand Superannuation Fund has announced its divestment from seven gun manufacturers, following the Christchurch terrorist attack.

“Continued investment in companies producing these weapons is now inconsistent with New Zealand Government policy,” said Matt Whineray, chief executive for the guardians, the body that manages the superannuation fund.

The NZ$41 billion ($27.7 billion) will be offloading about $12 million worth of stocks from American Outdoor Brands, Daicel, NOF, OLIN, Richemont, Sturm, Ruger, and Vista Outdoor.

Source: Chief Investment Officer

SINGAPORE

Government Investment Corporation (GIC) and Chinese shopping mall operator Grandjoy Holdings Group have been selected for a pilot programme that will allow individual Chinese investors to buy shares in rent-yielding properties for the first time.

Grandjoy, the property arm of China state-owned conglomerate Cofco, was picked by the securities regulator as one of several firms to try China’s first publicly listed real estate investment trust (Reit), said chief financial officer Xu Hanping.

“The possible float of the Reit could add an exit route for our real estate funds’ investment, besides matured Reit markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore,” she said, adding that she does not know when exactly the pilot might materialise, because it is up to the China Securities Regulatory Commission. Chinese commercial real estate operators have for years been calling for a Reit to debut on the stock exchange.

Source: SCMP, DealStreetAsia

INTERNATIONAL

CapitaLand said it had raised money from institutional investors such as pension funds, insurance companies and financial institutions from Asia and Europe for its first discretionary real estate equity fund.

The Singapore property giant has first-closed the vehicle, CapitaLand Asia Partners I, with $391.3 million, having started fundraising in July last year.

Source: Straits Times