Martin Currie Investment Management will bring forward its plans to launch an Australia-domiciled emerging markets fund following a coup in which the Edinburgh-based firm lured a team of specialists from a local rival.

Martin Currie has hired six emerging markets managers from Scottish Widows Investment Partners – first, the two most senior people, Kim Catechis and Alastair Reynolds, followed last week by four others, Andrew Ness, Jeff Casson, Divya Mathur and Mohammed Zaidi.

The former Scottish Widows team had worked together for many years at the firm, managing about A$4 billion in emerging markets equities.

Kimon Kouryialas, Australian country head for Martin Currie, said from Edinburgh yesterday that his company now had an emerging markets capability which would be seen amongst the marketplace as world-class in terms or resourcing and manager skill.

“We are now going to launch our emerging markets strategy in Australia before the end of the year,” he said. The firm had originally scheduled the new product launch for later next year.

Kouryialas, in Scotland for strategy meetings covering the Australasian region, said Martin Currie saw a lot of its business growth over the next few years coming from its knowledge about and commitment to the emerging markets.

“We’ve had a strong team in Shanghai for many years, for instance, and we continue to build up our resources in Asia,” he said. Martin Currie opened a Singapore office last year and intends to expand its Australian two-person office.

Willie Watt, Martin Currie’s chief executive, said of the new appointments underscored the firm’s recognition of the increasing importance of emerging markets equities as an asset class.

“We have made it clear that we want to build a globally competitive emerging market capability,” he said. “By hiring Kim Catechis and Alastair Reynolds and now the rest of their team, we have done just that.”

Kouryialas said he expected to get some seed funding for the Australian-domiciled fund within the next few months.

“There’s a rapidly growing appetite for emerging markets because of the way the world is changing,” he said.

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