The Philippine central bank's pension fund has contracted Eastspring Investments to run a domestic equities portfolio, making the funds arm of UK insurer Prudential the first foreign manager to run money for the state investor. 

Eastspring's fund, a Luxembourg-domiciled open-ended strategy, is focused on Philippine equities and managed by Wing Kin Chow out of Singapore. The size of the mandate was not specified, but is likely to be $50 million or less, given that it is being put into a commingled fund.

Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas (BSP) Provident Fund had previously only invested with onshore managers, says Mark Yuen, head of institutional sales for Southeast Asia at Eastspring. The two parties had been meeting for almost eight months before BSP awarded the mandate to the $94 billion asset manager, he tells AsianInvestor.

“It didn’t happen overnight. Our engagement with them started some time in the second half last year,” Yuen says, adding that in the grand scheme of things, eight months is not that long. “We were quite privileged that the whole sales process was shorter than expected.”

Vicente Aquino, deputy governor of BSP, says Eastspring was chosen after rigorous rounds of evaluation.

Yuen declined to say whether BSP Provident Fund plans to invest more with Eastspring, or to specify the fund’s assets under management or number of underlying investors. BSP did not respond to requests seeking additional comment.

It is understood that BSP Provident Fund, which provides retirement funding for BSP’s employees, was planning on making its first overseas equity allocation back in 2011. 

Eastspring is seeking to expand its distribution capabilities outside of Asia under new regional chief executive Guy Strapp, with several initiatives coming after a number of key departures. At the moment, some 95% of its AUM is sourced from Asian institutions.

It has investment and distribution offices in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, as well as joint-venture operations in China, Hong Kong and India.