Legg Mason has three new products ready for the Australian market following the bedding down of its core investment offerings this year and restructuring of its management team.

Kimon Kouryialas has been appointed joint business head of Legg Mason Australia, which is the distributor of the firm’s product range and those of its ‘affiliates’. He had been acting in the role for most of this year. He said last week after returning from a trip to affiliates’ offices in the US, UK and Asia, that there were “some extremely positive and exciting opportunities that will be made available for Australian investors”. Affiliate Batterymarch, which is the firm’s flagship global equities provider, will launch an emerging markets equities fund in November. Emerging markets flows have picked up in the past two years, after a lull, thanks largely to heightened interest in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China). Batterymarch has also just launched an international market neutral fund and is planning a 130:30 long/short equity fund early next year. Kouryialas said that some capacity in each had been reserved for Australian clients. Legg Mason has had a domestic market neutral fund, now run by head of equities Reece Birtles, for two years. Market neutral funds have not yet proved as popular as funds with leveraged equities exposure in Australia, but this may change following recent work by Mercer Investment Consulting which shows they represent the best value on a risk/return basis of all hedge funds (as reported last week). Birtles is also weeks away from launching a new Australian Value Equity Trust, a high conviction portfolio that undertakes fundamental research focussed on intrinsic value. The Legg Mason US Value Trust, to be launched later this month, is managed by Bill Miller and is the only US Equity Fund to have outperformed the S&P500 Index in each of the last fifteen calendar years. Kouryialas said that Legg Mason Australia put its efforts into trying to match client needs and objectives with the products and strategies of various affiliates. “;We’re not going to offer the entire range just because they’re there. We only want to offer what’s suitable for clients and where there is natural appetite,” he said. Other flagship products include Western Asset and Brandywine in fixed income and Permal in alternative strategies (hedged funds and private equity).

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