Manulife Asset Management Thailand has shown its confidence in the domestic market, launching its first equity fund and its fourth fund since the firm set up shop earlier this year. The new fund is known as the Manulife Strength Equity Fund and will invest exclusively in stocks listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET).

The open-ended fund will be available from 23 July to 2 August and will be managed by Panukorn Chantaraprapab, equity director of Manulife Asset Management Thailand, and Sukkawat Prasurtying, the Bangkok-based firmÆs chief investment officer. It will be available through Manulife Asset Management ThailandÆs network of distribution partners, which include Standard Chartered, Deutsche Bank, Bangkok and Phatra Securities, KGI Securities and Merchant Partner Securities.

The firm will also invite investment from both retail and institutional investors and will likely buy Thai stocks that offer high dividend yields and low volatility for clients.

The Manulife Strength Equity Fund is the latest offering by one of ThailandÆs new asset management firms. Since joining the industry in May 2007, Manulife Asset Management Thailand has launching two addition funds in its Strength Core range.

These two - Manulife Strength Core Equity and Strength Core Long Term Fund - both invest in SET50 stocks, of which several names are unlikely to be found in its latest launch. It also launched an open-ended foreign investment fund earlier this year which feeds into the Manulife China Value Fund.

To capitalise on ThailandÆs growing acceptance of asset management, the firm plans to launch several new funds in the near term.

ôWe also plan to launch other funds including a fixed-income fund, a short-term fixed income fund, and two retirement mutual funds,ö says Alan Kam, chief executive officer of Manulife Asset Management Thailand. ôThe retirement mutual funds are aimed at investors who want to save for their retirement and enjoy tax privileges in accordance with the regulation of the revenue department.ö

Since its launch, the firm has pooled together Bt2.99 billion (approximately $100 million) in assets under management.