Martin Currie to launch Asia real-return strategy tomorrow

The subsidiary of US asset manager Legg Mason suffered a delay to the launch, but is now about to launch the product, which combines listed infrastructure, Reits and utilities.
Martin Currie to launch Asia real-return strategy tomorrow

UK fund house Martin Currie will tomorrow launch its new Asia Pacific Real Income strategy*, a combination of listed infrastructure, real estate investment trusts (Reits) and utilities.

The original plan had been to launch the product in March this year, but there was some delay due to issues around administration and regulatory approval.

The strategy is based on the Martin Currie Australia Real Income investment philosophy, process and team.

Andrew Chambers, senior research analyst for real assets, will be lead portfolio manager, while Reece Birtles, chief investment officer for Australia, will be co-portfolio manager.

The strategy, with a capacity of A$4 bilion ($2.97 billion), will be run out of Australia, where Martin Currie has a 16-strong investment team. The firm hired a dedicated Asian research analyst in Melbourne a year ago. 

The strategy’s weighting is 30% Australia, 20% Singapore, 20% Hong Kong and 15% New Zealand, with the remaining 15% spread across the rest of Asia Pacific ex Japan. It is being seeded by Martin Currie’s parent company, Legg Mason, a US asset manager that acquired the UK firm in 2014.

Martin Currie is targeting the institutional and wealth management clients in Asia, but the firm also sees the strategy as attractive to a global client base, said Kimon Kouryialas, head of Pan Asia.

Willie Watt, chief executive of Martin Currie, in January had pointed to interest in income and absolute-return strategies in Asia. Given major market volatility in the past few years, investors in the region have indeed been seeking stable, consistent returns from these types of products.

With regard to China, Watt said the firm was targeting the institutional market – notably insurance firms – and was less interested in the retail segment. For example, he said Martin Currie had no plans to set up a base in Hong Kong with a view to making use of the cross-border mutual recognition of funds scheme.

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