Taiwan's PSPF short-lists 10 for global equity mandates

The civil servantsÆ pension fund has chosen a rather surprising list of candidates to potentially manage two global equity mandates.

Further to a request for proposal (RFP) it issued in November, Taiwan's Public Service Pension Fund (PSPF) has apparently short-listed 10 managers for two global equity mandates. Sources say they include Aberdeen, American Century, DWS, Goldman Sachs, Intech, Invesco, Loomis Sayles, MFS, Russell and Schroders.

These managers are in Taiwan this week, to present their cases for receiving one of the mandates. They will also have to undergo a question-and-answer session in front of an investment panel.

One senior institutional salesperson tells AsianInvestor: "I won't say that they are bad names, but some of the good names are obviously missing here."

A senior portfolio manager at an international multi-manager shop is more blunt; he finds the list of chosen managers "weird". "Global equity would not seem to be a key area of investment for most of these managers," he says.

Aberdeen Investment Management and Loomis Sayles are well known for their fixed-income expertise, less so on the global equity side. Goldman Sachs is a little less surprising, but is stronger in money-market instruments. And Janus Capital subsidiary Intech came under fire from institutional investors last year, due to the heavy underperformance of its quantitative model.

Among these names, MFS and American Century stand out. Sources speculate that they have the best chance of winning, as both have emerged with excellent information ratios post-crisis. The pair, along with Wellington, has been successful in gaining mandates from other big players in Australia and Hong Kong.

AsianInvestor reported in November on industry concerns over the peculiarities of the RFP mandate criteria set by the PSPF. The PSPF chose to use as a performance requirement the MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex-Japan index plus 200 basis points, but did not allow the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index as a proxy, and thus in effect screened out half of the industry.

The PSPF responded in December with the following explanation (it did not respond to the reason for the hidden screening in the selection process for the global equity mandates).

There are two main reasons for its approach. Firstly, there are two extra countries featured in the PSPF's index of choice -- Australia and New Zealand. Secondly, the Asia ex-Japan index has outperformed the Asia-Pacific ex-Japan index in the measurement period -- three years to June 30 -- gaining 12.26% versus 6.94%. (Don't worry if you're confused, so is AsianInvestor.)

Meanwhile, sources say a new batch of mandates is on the way at another of Taiwan's 'big four' funds, which comprise the Labour Insurance Fund, Labour Pension Fund (LPF), Taiwan Post and PSPF. Having handed out six mandates in February last year, the LPF is expected shortly to put out an RFP for a batch of Asia-Pacific equity or global emerging-market equity mandates.

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