Asiya Investments says it has moved to open an investment management arm in Hong Kong in response to demand from Middle East investors for direct access to emerging Asia.

The firm, founded as Kuwait China Investment Company in 2005, announced Asiya Investments Hong Kong this week, based in the Central business district.

Having received its type 4 (advising on securities) and type 9 (asset management) licences from the city’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) on July 6 last year, it already has a staff of 20 investment professionals based in Hong Kong.

It is being led by executive directors Sulaiman Alireza and Dan Xystus, and claims to have made more than $500 million in investments in Asia since its 2005 founding.

Asiya bills itself as an emerging Asia specialist that acts as a bridge for investments between the Middle East and emerging Asia. It says it invites clients to invest with it in a range of assets in which the firm invests its own capital.

It focuses on investment in sectors set to benefit from domestic demand arising from population growth and urbanisation, it notes, including energy, real estate, infrastructure, financial services and consumer products.

It also provides co-investment opportunities, research and advisory services on direct investments, acquisitions and joint ventures.

Ahmad Al-Hamad, group managing director of Asiya Investments, says that having an office in Hong Kong gives it a base to address a portfolio imbalance among Middle East investors.

“Historically there has been an underinvestment from the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council countries] into Asia relative to the region’s share of global growth,” he notes. “Now we’re finding increasing demand from Arab investors for detailed knowledge of the investment landscape in Asia.”

He adds that the office will also be used as a base to facilitate joint ventures between companies in emerging Asia and the GCC “as we see an intensifying level of economic and social engagement between the two regions”.

Asiya Investments established an investment advisory arm in the Dubai International Financial Centre in May last year, as a wholly owned subsidiary of the group’s corporate office based in Kuwait.

The firm lists some of its clients as the Kuwait Investment Authority, Alghanim Industries, Sultan M. bin Saud Al-Kabir of Saudi Arabia and other private sector GCC shareholders.