Western Asset has appointed a new head of investments in Australia, following the departure of its investment head to the Future Fund, as well as an Australian senior institutional business manager.

Anthony Kirkham has stepped into the head of investments role at the Melbourne office of the $US633 billion global fixed interest manager, partially filling the vacancy left by Mitchell Stack. Stack began work at the Future Fund as investment director of fixed income and credit-based hedge funds a fortnight ago. He was formerly the country head and head of investments, Australia, at Western Asset. Kirkham was previously deputy head of investments, responsible for the manager’s core bond fund, comprised of government, semi-government and corporate bonds, while Stack ran the broader credit trust, which includes hybrid bonds, asset and mortgage-backed securities. On the distribution side, David Frazier has been hired from the Sydney office of Wellington Management Company, a $US550 billion global institutional asset manager, to replace Mike Van Raaphorst as head of sales and marketing at Western Asset. Van Raaphorst, who had been with the Melbourne office for 18 months, has returned to the firm’s New York office. Frazier began work at Western Asset last week. The firm is a subsidiary of Legg Mason. It has $6.5 billion in Australian-sourced institutional money under management. Visiting Australia last week, Mike Zelouf, London-based director of Western Asset, said one of the firm’s fastest growing investment strategies was its multi-sector fund, which had increased FUM from $US1 billion in 2002 to $4 billion currently. This invests in mainstream sovereign bonds, high yield and emerging market bonds. The fund has traditionally attracted mainly retail funds, but increasingly the new inflows have come from institutional investors looking for a consistent provider of alpha through diversified fixed income. Zelouf predicted that this year would see the emerging markets component providing more of an income play than a capital appreciation play, however, he thought that there were opportunities in the US mortgage-backed securities market as well as some parts of the investment grade market.

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