Scottish asset manager Martin Currie has acquired a $167 million Japan long/short fund run by London-based PK Investment Management, along with its experienced management team.

PK chief executive and founder Paul Kirkby will lead-manage Martin Currie’s newly combined $425 million Japan long/short strategy. Alongside him will be PK fund manager Paul Smith and Claire Marwick, the Martin Currie’s incumbent Japan portfolio manager based in Edinburgh.

Martin Currie will be hoping Kirkby – who has run Japanese equities for some 30 years, at PK IM and Swiss manager GAM – can help boost the disappointing recent performance of its existing strategy. 

Between its launch in July 2014 and September 30, 2015, the Cayman-domiciled RIT PK Fund has returned +8.7% in dollars, net of fee terms, while the Martin Currie Japan long/short strategy has fallen –2.8%. Both funds are absolute-return strategies and therefore do not have benchmarks.

Asked whether Martin Currie expected to see growth in demand for Japan exposure, a spokeswoman would only say: “We currently see demand in both institutional and wealth management markets.” 

The firm also runs long and long/short Japan strategies, and offers offshore and Ucits vehicles for both. 

Kirkby set up PK IM in 2002 after working at GAM for 16 years. There he ran long-only and long/short Japanese equity funds and launched the firm's first UK open-ended investment company (Oeic) in 1997. From its inception until Kirkby’s departure, that fund returned 13.4% compared with an average of 3.1% for its peer group.

PK IM terminated all of its investment management agreements with clients in October 2012 to enable Kirkby to take time away from the business due to a family illness. He then re-established the business in late 2013, launching the current fund in February 2014.

Martin Currie is owned by $672.1 billion fund group Legg Mason, having been acquired by the US firm in October 2014. At the time the UK manager had $9.5 billion in AUM.