UBS’s new Asian fund-administration platform has its long-term sights on China’s “huge, untapped opportunities”, says Colin Lunn, the unit’s head of business development and client services.
China will be the major target market in the long term, as the regulatory environment develops, while the initial core client base will be alternative asset managers in Hong Kong and Singapore. They range from single-manager funds and funds of hedge funds through to private equity, real estate and venture capital, says Lunn. “Ultimately we will look at long-only and traditional [fund classes].”
Lunn, a former executive at HSBC Securities Services, joined UBS in April to help set up the bank’s fund-services business in Asia. The division formally launched last week, providing administration, accounting and shareholder services, in addition to net asset value calculation and reporting.
Private-equity firms in the region are understood to have indicated a strong initial interest in the UBS platform, which is supported by a fund-administration centre in Singapore housing 20 staff. Business development is being handled out of Hong Kong by Lunn and Jenny Lor, State Street’s former head of China market and product development.
The Swiss bank is already a large provider of fund-admin to Asia-based hedge funds and funds of hedge funds, which were previously served by a UBS hub in the Cayman Islands, with support from units in Toronto and Europe.
The creation of the Asian unit took a year and was driven by client demand, notes Thomas Wels, London-based chief operating officer of UBS’s global asset management business and head of fund services. “Our institutional clients, and also our internal portfolio managers, were asking for local and regional support in the Asian time zone,” he says.
UBS has $439 billion in global assets under administration, of which $10 billion to $15 billion come from Asia. Lunn expects that proportion to increase as Asia’s fund industry grows.
In addition to China, UBS is eyeing Australia as a potentially lucrative market, given its sizeable base of asset managers and large superannuation industry. Last month the bank agreed to acquire ING’s $35.2 billion Australian investment-management unit. Lunn says this will provide UBS with new scope to administer Australian assets, which will be serviced from Hong Kong and Singapore.