UOB Global Capital, an asset management subsidiary of Singapore's United Overseas Bank, is distributing a hedge fund managed by Geneva-based Alternative Investment Management & Research (AIM&R). The SOGAsia Fund is a low volatility, multi-strategy, event-driven and equity arbitrage Japan/Asia hedge fund.

Michael Landau, managing director at UOB Global Capital in Paris, one of its three bases (including Singapore and New York), says the young firm, founded in 1998, is owned 70% by UOB and 30% by its executive management, and specializes in providing long-only, hedge fund and private equity strategies with an Asian focus to Western institutional investors. He declined to quantify the firm's current assets under management.

The firm has struck a strategic partnership with AIM&R for the exclusive distribution of the SOGAsia Fund worldwide, including to qualified investors in Asia. UOB is also an investor in the fund.

"We are developing the capacity to provide high-quality Asian product to Western institutional investors," Landau says. "Given the fast growth in the underlying Asian economies, there is increased appetite for Asian investment product in all asset classes."

UOB Global Capital also markets its products to Asian institutions, including a long/short fund provided by New York-based manager Kinetics. With investment from Hong Kong- and Singapore-based family offices, interest among Asian institutions in hedge funds is beginning to grow, although financial institutions are still considering it.

AIM&R's SOGAsia fund offers two classes of shares, 'D' or US dollar-denominated shares, and 'Y' or yen-denominated shares; Y shares are exclusively invested in Japan. The fund aims to achieve absolute returns by capitalizing on the inefficiencies in the Asian capital markets. It is managed by Albert Saporta, the founding partner of AIM&R, who has been managing Japanese and Asian arbitrage strategies since 1991. AIM&R now manages $100 million in two hedge funds, proprietary capital and managed accounts.