United States fund manager MFS Investments has unwound its decade-long partnership with BNP Paribas in Australia and is going it alone in the local market. President and chief investment officer of MFS, Michael Roberge, was in Australia last week to meet with local clients, for whom the company manages just over US$14 billion.

“The BNP link was great for us, they brought presence and relationships and we brought product, so it was a great partnership for a number of years,” Roberge told I&T News in an interview.

“But our business here is now quite substantial, and of course BNP had their own products, too, so it was time for us to start to have a more direct relationship with clients because we do want to get more involved in this market.”

 

Investors “less local and more global”

MFS has hired a number of staff from BNP Paribas as it establishes its local operation, which offers global and emerging-market equities products, primarily to large superannuation funds.

The Boston-based manager is the second major funds house over the last week to ramp up its Australian operation, following on from Eaton Vance’s appointment of a country head for Australia.

“The local super funds are very sophisticated investors, and I think they are starting to be less local and more global in the way they look at things,” said Roberge.

“Also, the Australian market is largely banks and miners, and with the size of the super industry here it is almost too big for the local market, so it has to look elsewhere.”

Roberge said the world faced perhaps a decade of “anaemic growth”, but saw opportunities currently in equities.

“If you look around the world, equities are relatively attractive and they are also relatively cheap,” he said.

“I think that is why you saw asset prices go up through the period of quantitative easing.”

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