Willie WattGlobal equities manager Martin Currie Investment Management is looking into the possibility of introducing an emerging markets fund to Australia next year, reflecting the firm’s growing belief in, and commitment to, the developing world for long-term investment.

According to Willie Watt, Martin Currie’s Edinburgh-based chief executive, Asia and Australia are expected to provide an increasing proportion of funds under management over the next few years. Europe will likely decline and the US remain steady at around one-third of funds under management.

“We had a strategic review last year and highlighted the areas that we want to grow in. Australia and Asia were paramount,” he said last week on a trip to Australia.

“We see ourselves as a boutique business and we don’t want to change that, but there is still scope to grow it … We are keen to get people focussed on the long term … We’re not going to get into new asset classes, though, or anything radical.”

Kimon Kouryialas, the regional head for Pan Asia, based in Melbourne, said the four main strategies in which Australian super funds had been interested since the firm set up shop in Melbourne in August last year were: global alpha (a high-conviction global equities fund), China, Global Resources, Emerging Markets and Asia ex-Japan.

“Emerging markets will most likely be the next cab off the rank for a pooled fund,” he said.

Kouryialas recruited a Singapore-based business development director, Ee Fang Chen, to open an office there in October. Watt said the firm might eventually have an investment research and dealing operation in Singapore. It already has a major presence in Shanghai and a senior analyst in Hong Kong.

“If the growth is going to be in Asia and you have to take an equity risk, then you might as well hitch your trolley to the most exciting part of the world,” Watt said.

“And if you don’t want equity risk, you can still play out the main themes through bond portfolios, too.”

Martin Currie has about A$800 million in Australian-sourced funds, from five super fund clients and the wealth management arm of UBS. The firm has about US$19 billion under management overall.

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