Morningstar analysts have placed the silver-rated Platinum Asia ETF "under review" following the resignation of lead portfolio manager Joseph Lai.

Lead analyst Ksenia Zaychuk said Lai was an investor they "held in high regard" and described his departure as "disappointing". He had headed the strategy since late 2014.

"While Platinum retains a deep pool of investment talent across the broader team, given the uncertainty around Lai’s replacement, we have placed the Platinum Asia and Platinum Asia ETF (PAXX) strategies Under Review," Zaychuk says.

Platinum chief investment officer Andrew Clifford and colleague Cameron Robertson will co-manage the Platinum Asia strategy from 1 April 2020. In the interim, Clifford will act as portfolio manager. Robertson was appointed as co-manager of Platinum International Technology in early 2017 and was previously the sector lead of the technology/communications team.

Morningstar analysts will now review Platinum Asia and Platinum Asia ETF PAXX.

"Our updated view will be published soon after," Zaychuk says. "In the meantime, Platinum Asia and Platinum Asia ETF PAXX will remain under review."

The exchange quoted managed fund previously carried a silver-rating.

PAXX had an exceptionally strong year in 2020, returning 27.15 per cent to investors and besting the Equity Asia Pacific w/o Japan category by 10.22 per cent. The portfolio carriers some of the largest names in Asia tech, including Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd and Kingsoft Corp Ltd. Platinum's focus is on identifying companies underappreciated by the market. 

Calendar year returns, PAXX, Platinum Asia, Morningstar Category

Platinum Asia Returns

Source: Morningstar Direct

Assets under management in PAXX have grown to $179.4 million since inception in September 2017. Platinum Asia (unlisted) is significantly larger with net assets of $5,210 million.

Lai joined Platinum in 2004, having worked previously as a medical doctor and as an analyst at Morgan Stanley. He was given responsibility for covering Greater China equities in 2008, before being promoted to co-portfolio manager alongside Clifford, running 35 per cent of the Platinum Asia fund in April 2011. His sleeve was increased to 50 per cent in February 2014; he took over full coverage in late 2014.

Lai was supported by five analysts specialising in the Asian region, as well as the broader Platinum investment team.

Platinum Asia - Portfolio Holdings at 31/12/2020

Platinum Asia Portfolio Holdings

Source: Morningstar Direct