Merrill Lynch Investment Managers is spinning out six new sector funds, capitalizing on the growing craze for thematic rather than geography-based investing. Asia is not a prominent part of this roll out, however: only in Hong Kong will the new funds be available, as opposed to a long list of European jurisdictions. The funds will be managed out of London and Princeton, New Jersey.

Merrill Lynch as a group is promoting sector investment in a big way. Earlier this year, the firm helped FTSE develop a suite of global sector indices, and was the first broker to offer institutional and retail trading instruments based on them. The firm is also working to introduce exchange-traded funds in London based on the FTSE sector indices.

Now the investment management arm is rolling out global sector funds tackling utilities, telecoms, healthscience, financial services, energy, and technology. These join two existing sector funds involved in gold and mining. Today MLIM runs $6 billion of assets on a sector basis.