The Dutch pension asset manager's Asia Pacific head of real estate says his team has just had one of its busiest years ever and that 2021 is looking similarly promising.
ECM, which markets in Japan, Singapore, Australia and Korea and has around $4 billion in assets under management across these markets, plans to leverage the takeover to expand its product range and establish foothold in the American pensions market.
ECM, founded in 1999 by several ex-Merrill Lynch investment bankers and based in London, sells a range of bond funds and fixed interest notes to institutional clients in Asia Pacific. Its client list, according to Colin Blackwell, the companyÆs Singapore-based chief representative for the region, includes banks and insurance companies. Its product range is dominated by investment grade portfolios but can include high yield, bank capital, asset backed paper and leveraged loans.
ôEvergreen wanted to establish a presence in Asia,ö says Blackwell, ôwhile from our point of view we wanted to leverage its presence in the US.ö
ECM plans to expand its investment management team following the acquisition which sees its staff, including chief executive Steven Blakey and chief investment officer Stephen Zinser, retain a 30% stake in the company. It will also leverage the Wachovia/Evergreen link up to expand into Asia-Pacific bond management.
ôAsian debt markets are in the same position as European markets seven or eight years ago, and as with Europe, the market will expand,ö argues Blackwell.
WachoviaÆs buy continues the trend of major US banks snapping up boutique fund management houses, such as Bank of New YorkÆs acquisition of Newton Investment Management. It is part of Wachovia CorporationÆs expansion plans also following the recent launch of Wachovia Global Asset Management to target markets outside the United States.
Mega players Nippon Life and Dai-ichi Life are looking for opportunities in higher-yield single-A US corporate bonds, which offer more appealing yields than stagnant domestic offerings.
The “lower for longer” monetary policy and stimulus packages, coupled with the rolling out of vaccine programmes favorably support real estate investing in the region, with offices and data centres presenting forward-looking opportunities.
As US fixed income default rates rose and yields fell during the pandemic, are Asian bonds, which have had more stable yields through 2020, looking more attractive?
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