Northern Trust Global Investments, the $761.4 billion Chicago-based asset manager, has entered the Taiwan funds space by appointing First Taisec Capital Management as its master agent. In Taiwan, offshore fund managers must appoint a single agent for distributing investment products. This arrangement will allow Northern Trust to introduce its manager-of-manager products to the Taiwan retail market.

This is the second multi-manager deal in Taiwan, following a similar arrangement between Russell Investment Group and Polaris Financial Group that was signed in November 2006.

First Taisec is the securities arm of First Financial Holding Company. It will oversee the registration and distribution of five funds via its affiliates, First Commercial Bank and National Investment Trust. The products are all part of Northern TrustÆs Dublin-domiciled, manager-of-managers fund range. The funds cover UK equities, Europe ex-UK equities, global equities, US equities and Japan equities.

Thomas Benzmiller, regional managing director at NTGI in Hong Kong, says the firm hopes to use the relationship with First Taisec to market more of its multi-manager and other products, including its index and enhanced index products.

He says the firms decided to embark on this partly because they felt a cultural kinship, and because First Taisec was looking for a product profile that multi-manager funds met. Benzmiller hopes this will lead to other business opportunities with First Taisec, including providing global custody to any international funds First Taisec decides to launch, or to sub-advise them. But the relationship is not exclusive for either party.

NTGI established a separate share class of the Dublin-based products to fit the local environment. ôThe multi-manager concept already exists in Taiwan and has been well received,ö Benzmiller says, adding the firm has similar distribution arrangements in Japan.