South Korea's Woori Asset Management has mandated BNY Mellon Asset Management for 10 different international equity mandates totalling $388 million.
This is Woori's response to the break up of its former funds joint venture with Credit Suisse, which ended earlier this year in the wake of CS' decision to sell most of its long-only business to Aberdeen Asset Management.
Woori AM is the seventh largest onshore fund house, with W15 trillion ($10.1 billion) of assets under management, which makes it a mid-sized player, but with a big-time parent distributor, Woori Financial Group. The end to the CS strategic relationship meant it needed a new way of providing international products to its customers, a capability that Woori AM is not able to provide on its own.
International equities are now an important part of the Korean funds business, with around $60 billion invested in overseas equity funds. The business has boomed since 2007, partly due to the erasure of withholding taxes on locally domiciled, internationally invested equity products.
Although for a few players such as Mirae Asset used this incentive to support their own offshore investment teams, most domestic firms have not gone down this path. Woori AM instead sent out RFPs earlier this year in search of a global funds provider that would white-label its products for Woori.
BNY Mellon Asset Management won the deal, thanks in part to its umbrella of multiple boutique managers, which can provide a diversity of investment strategies. Won Yoohee, the firm's chief rep in Seoul, says BNY Mellon will be sub-advising 10 mandates for Woori AM; while Woori AM will run an eleventh international fund on its own.
The BNY Mellon strategies are mostly focused on emerging markets, such as Latin America and Eastern Europe. One covers natural resources, another global luxury goods. There are two mandates dedicated to developed markets: a European dividend fund and a Japanese small-cap strategy.
The 10 mandates are split amongst BNY Mellon's various boutiques, including London-based Blackfriars Asset Management, a global and regional emerging-markets specialist; San Francisco-based Mellon Capital, a quant shop; and WestLB Mellon Asset Management, a core and specialist investment firm based in Dusseldorf, Germany.
BNY Mellon gets a slice of the annual management fee for any of these sub-advised strategies that are sold via Woori AM (mainly through either Woori Bank or Woori Securities & Investment, although Woori AM does sell its products through some third-party channels as well). Won declined to quantify the fees involved. BNY Mellon won't be involved in marketing or distribution but will provide servicing for Woori AM from its London and New York hubs.
For BNY Mellon, this deal more than doubles its Korea business. It has been on the ground since December 2006 with a rep office, and is in the process of obtaining a license for discretionary investment management, which would allow it to market directly to local institutional investors. For now, however, it is not preparing to enter the onshore funds business.