Perpetual Investments has altered the investment guidelines of its flagship Australian shares fund to allow the fund to be up to 20 per cent in international equities.

Emilio Gonzalez, Perpetual’s chief investment officer, said it was unlikely the fund would be greater than 7 per cent in global shares in the next year. “Our initial thinking is anywhere between 0-7 per cent within the first 12 months with an absolute limit of 20 per cent, but it’s a step-by-step approach and we’re not doing anything differently today than we have been, except we’ve opened a window to allow us to take advantage of opportunities as they arise,” Gonzalez says. No changes have been made to Perpetual’s investment team, although the team will now work more closely with the group’s new Dublin-based international boutique, Perpetual Global Equities (PGE). PGE, which was established in 2004 with four founding members poached from the Bank of Ireland Asset Management, is on the brink of releasing its one-year numbers at the end of this month. “One of the benefits of having a global equities team is the ability to leverage off their experience and knowledge,” Gonzalez says. “We can tap into their research to get a better understanding of the global environment.” Gonzalez says that the change is just an expansion of Perpetual’s opportunity set in recognition that the manager is already dealing with global companies. He stressed that the group will only invest offshore “where opportunities present as part of research the firm is already conducting on Australian stocks”. “In understanding News Corp, you have to also understand the global industry and News Corp’s competitors,” Gonzalez says. “If opportunities arise, we want to be able to take advantage of them and pass that onto our clients, in the form of higher returns. The change reflects things that we are already doing.” Perpetual’s Australian shares fund will continue to be measured against the S&P/ASX 300 Index. According to Perpetual’s half-year results to December 31, 2005, the firm had $21 billion in funds under management in Australian equities, at the end of December 31, 2005. PGE had $2 billion under management. Based on these figures, Perpetual could have $6.2 million under management in global equities shortly.

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