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Fund Times: Updates for AMP, Australian Ethical, ING

Phillip Gray  |  03 Oct 2008Text size  Decrease  Increase  |  

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In recent news from the funds management industry you may have missed, AMP has terminated a further three funds; Australian Ethical has promoted its infrastructure analyst to run the firm's World Share portfolio; and ING has appointed an interest rate specialist.


AMP terminates three more funds
Following its termination of 57 options earlier in September (Fund Times 24 September 2008), AMP Capital Investors has now culled three more, two domestic quantitatively-managed share funds (AMP Capital Investors Active Quant Share and AMP Capital Investors Active Quant Share A) and a growth-style world share fund, AMP Capital Investors Global Growth Opportunities. All three were tiny, totalling less than A$1.0 million in combined assets.

The Active Quant Share funds, launched in September 1995 and 1997, were both strong performers in the wholesale Australian Large Blend category, ranking in the top quartile over all time periods to 31 August 2008. The funds' largest holdings at 30 June 2008 comprised BHP Billiton (14.86 percent of portfolio value), Telstra (5.03 percent), and Commonwealth Bank (4.67 percent).

The Global Growth Opportunities Fund, launched on 1 March 2000 (the same month, ironically, that the 1990s international share bull market collapsed), was managed by Henderson Global Investors. (AMP bought Henderson in 1998, and it was demerged as HHG Group in 2003.) AMP is still offering AMP Capital Global Growth Opportunities, which is also very small, with only A$1.65 million in assets.

The fund had been a first or second quartile performer among wholesale World Large Growth funds over the one, three, and five years to 31 August 2008, but slumped to fourth quartile over the past six months, with a –2.78 percent return, 4.76 percent below the return from the MSCI World ex-Australia Net Dividends Reinvested Index $A. The top 10 holdings for the parent Henderson fund at 30 June 2008 included Marfin Popular Bank, formerly the Cyprus Popular Bank (3.79 percent); Spanish telco Telefonica (2.91 percent); Public Power Corporation (2.70 percent), Greece's largest electricity operator; and Norwegian financial Storebrand (2.61 percent).


Australian Ethical appoints world share portfolio manager
Canberra ethical investment specialist Australian Ethical has appointed Ursula Tonkin as Portfolio Manager for Australian Ethical World, replacing Frank Zhu, who's leaving the firm on 14 October for an undisclosed start-up. Tonkin joined the firm in November 2003 as a trainee equity analyst, and has since May 2006 been the firm's primary analyst for domestic and international infrastructure and metal recycling stocks. (Infrastructure, utility, and related companies currently comprise 15.0 percent of the World portfolio.) The firm said that Portfolio Manager Michael O'Brien – responsible for allocating stocks for the international component of Australian Ethical Large Companies, which accounted for just over a third (34.26 percent) of fund assets at 31 August – would "continue the portfolio management... in a caretaker role until Ursula has had a chance to get across the full portfolio and the responsibilities".

Launched on 30 July 2007, the Australian Ethical World Trust's –10.95 percent one-year return to 31 August 2008 compared favourably with the –16.99 percent from the MSCI World Accumulation Index, assisted by the above-average cash weighting (7.51 percent) and partial currency hedging. The Trust's largest stockholdings have recently included Spanish bank Santander; Singapore Exchange; Osaka Gas; and Danish wind power producer Vestas. Australian Ethical is among the select band of international share funds managed out of Australia without global investment management input.


ING appoints interest rate specialist
Finally, ING Investment Management has appointed Bradley Gibson to its Fixed Interest team as Head of Rate Strategies, effective 3 November. Gibson was most recently Head of Global Markets in Singapore for the Commonwealth Bank, and before this, spent 16 years in fixed interest investment management with AMP Capital Investors in Sydney and London. He'll report to ING's Director, Fixed Income Greg Michel.

Gibson will contribute to the management of funds run according to the firm's Diversified Fixed Interest strategy – among them ING OneAnswer Investment Portfolio ING Diversified Fixed Interest and ING Wholesale Diversified Fixed Interest – which currently have Morningstar Recommendations of 'Investment Grade', as well as the firm's domestic bond funds such as ING Wholesale – Fixed Interest Securities.