SPARX Asset Management, Japan's leading independent investment manager has partnered with European bank IXIS Corporate & Investment Bank to launch an Asian hedge fund platform. The partners will combine their efforts to create a framework that provides Asian hedge fund products catering to investor demand, channeling more investments to Asian hedge fund managers both directly and through structured products.

SPARX, founded by Shuhei Abe in 1989, manages over $8 billion in assets, both through in-house Japan-focused long only and alternative products, as well as through fund of hedge funds.

Masahiro Sugino, head of SPARX's investor relations says the new joint venture will create strong synergies. While SPARX will bring its expertise in select new hedge fund managers and provide asset management expertise in hedge fund and fund of hedge fund products, IXIS CIB will bring its due diligence, risk monitoring and structuring capabilities to the partnership.

"We are delighted to partner with IXIS CIB, a leader in alternative investments, product structuring and innovation. Our joint efforts to create a dedicated hedge fund platform in Asia will hopefully provide unique solutions and guide global capital flows into the Asia pacific hedge fund community," says SPARX founder, Shuhei Abe.

The new venture has tentatively been named SPARX IXIS Alternative Investments Asia Pacific and will be based in Hong Kong and headed up by Kazunori Matsumoto, director and president of SPARX International. The new group is due to begin operations on September 30 and plans to kick off with around ten team members.

SPARX's Sugino says that it was too early to say which strategies or how many managers the platform will aim to support. He notes that the team will initially look to bring existing hedge funds on to their platform, before looking to bring on new managers.

He expects most interest in the new Asian hedge fund products to come from European investors who have relationships with IXIS.