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Fund Times: Updates for Advance, AMP, AXA, Challenger, Hyperion, Investors Mutual

Phillip Gray  |  27 Aug 2008Text size  Decrease  Increase  |  

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In recent news from the funds management industry you may have missed, Advance has dropped Maple-Brown Abbott in favour of an Asian specialist, while a former member of Maple-Brown's Asian equities team is now working for AMP. Hyperion and Investors Mutual have also been hiring, while AXA and Challenger are grappling with ways to protect the interests of investors in their property funds.


Advance replaces Maple-Brown as Asian manager
Advance Asset Management has replaced Maple-Brown Abbott as manager of Advance Asian Equity and Advance Wholesale Asian Equity with Singapore-based Lion Global Investors. St. George Investment Solutions General Manager Patrick Farrell stated that the decision was taken in part because the shop considered it beneficial to have the funds management on the ground in Asia.

Lion Global Investors – called Lion Capital Management until June this year – was created in September 2005 following the merger of the funds management businesses of the OCBC banking group and the Great Eastern insurance company. Lion currently has about S$32.0 billion ($A26.16 billion) in assets, and is 70.0 percent-owned by Great Eastern Holdings, the remaining 30.0 percent ownership resting with Orient Holdings Private, a wholly-owned OCBC subsidiary.

The two Advance funds, both launched on 18 May 2004 and which have only $A26.42 million in combined assets, have been relatively weak fourth-quartile performers in their respective categories over the past three years. Principal stockholdings under the new stewardship at 30 June 2008 included Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, banking group DBS, the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, and Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing, while in country terms the funds were most heavily-invested in Taiwan (21.36 percent), China (19.63 percent), and South Korea (16.33 percent).


AMP Capital adds to Asian equities team
In related news, AMP Capital Investors has appointed Ragavan Sivanserajah as a Portfolio Manager to the Asian Equities team headed by Karma Wilson. Sivanserajah worked previously at Maple-Brown Abbott for five years, where he was part of the team which invested the monies in Advance's Asian funds (see above). His background also includes stints with BT Funds Management and as a quantitative analyst at Commonwealth Investment Management.

AMP Capital's Asian equities team now comprises five members in Sydney and Beijing, responsible for the now-closed AMP Capital China ($A78.78 million assets) and AMP Capital China 2 ($A26.69 million), launched in August 2004 and May 2005 respectively. In March this year, AMP Capital hired former Perennial co-founder Kerry Series as Head of Asia Pacific Equities to oversee and manage the firm's Australian, New Zealand, and Asian equities teams.


Challenger closes hybrid property fund, AXA to list fund
Challenger Managed Investments closed Challenger Hybrid Property to withdrawals and new investments on 20 August, citing an absence of willing buyers in the direct property market which is making transactions at fair values difficult. Competitor AXA's approach to the same issue has been to announce its intention to list AXA Wholesale Australian Property and AXA Australian Property on the sharemarket, also freezing applications and redemptions in the interim, while BlackRock has also suspended redemptions from its Combined Property Income funds. Similar moves by other fund managers in the same directions can be expected should liquidity remain an issue. Table 1 shows the largest of these funds.

Table 1: Largest Hybrid Direct/Listed Property Funds Ranked by Size

Fund Name APIR Code Net Assets A$m Listed Prop % Unlisted Prop %
AXA - Wholesale Australian Property NML0001AU 1074.73 7.80 84.78
BlackRock Wsale Combined Property Income Class D MAL0008AU 604.05 34.52 61.70
AMP Capital Core Property A AMP1015AU 366.89 52.62 47.38
Challenger Wholesale Hybrid Property HBC0013AU 222.36 36.21 74.72
Australian Unity Wsale Property Income YOC0100AU 135.52 26.86 72.81
Multiplex Property Income MLP0002AU 88.80 10.58 76.29
AXA - Australian Property NML0337AU 82.90 7.80 84.78
BT Wrap BlackRock Combined Prop Income WFS0384AU 48.46 34.52 61.70
ANZ OneAnswer IP AXA Australian Property NEF ANZ0821AU 40.95 7.80 84.78
BlackRock P Inv Combined Property Income Class C MAL0007AU 34.48 34.52 61.70
AMP Capital Core Property H AMP1074AU 26.25 52.62 47.38
Tankstream Property Investments TNK0001AU 24.43 29.23 70.77


Hyperion hires senior analyst
Brisbane boutique Hyperion Asset Management has hired former Wilson HTM analyst Jason Orthman as a Senior Investment Analyst, to work alongside Manny Pohl, Justin Woerner, and fellow Wilson alumni Mark Arnold and Joel Gray. Orthman has covered sectors including mining services, retail, manufacturing, and waste management.

Hyperion's funds include the $A43.60 million two-star Hyperion Australian Growth Companies and the $A4.29 million three-star Hyperion Small Growth Companies, which has a Morningstar Recommendation of 'Investment Grade'. As well as a 50.0 percent staff stake, the remainder of Hyperion is owned by Ian Macoun's Pinnacle Investment Management funds management incubation business, itself a subsidiary of Wilson HTM Investment Group.


Investors Mutual rebuilds staff complement
Investors Mutual has also been hiring staff, rebuilding its team following a number of departures in recent months which have included Equities Analysts Shaun O'Malley, Tony Waters, and Peter Moller (now with QIC); Portfolio Manager Paul Frost (now at MMC); and Quantitative Analyst Vessela Tasker.

The recent hires are Equities Analyst Julian Beaumont; Quantitative Research Manager Andrew Harrison; and Quantitative Analyst/Dealer Paul Winter. Beaumont worked previously with UK investment firm Montpelier Group, in investment banking for ING, and at law firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques advising clients on mergers and acquisitions, and is contributing stock ideas from the consumer discretionary, healthcare, and materials sectors. Harrison has worked for BARRA, Commonwealth Investment Management, and Industry Funds Management, while Winter's background is in quantitative roles with Bear Stearns, Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, and Salomon Smith Barney.

Our fund analysts are currently working on updating our Morningstar Recommendations and research reports for Investors Mutual's funds, among them Investors Mutual Wholesale – Australian Share ($A2.28 billion) and Investors Mutual Wholesale – Industrial Share ($A453.63 million), including assessments of these staff changes.