Posted inBusiness moves

AXA IM is keen to expand its businesses in Asia

The firm has China at its core of strategic growth.
Terence Lam, AXA IM

AXA Investment Managers is putting a lot of focus in Asia, because of the growth of wealth in the region, AXA IM’s managing director Terence Lam told FSA.

“We are on expansion mode, and are playing a catch-up game in Asia, where we are setting new strategies in a more systematic way in some of the key countries in the region,” Lam said.

In the wholesale and retail space, the company is planning to add sales and clients services staff and marketing experts, and it also intends to grow its private banking offerings, he explained.

“We have people in Hong Kong and Singapore covering the private banking business segment. We also have been doing a lot of business in Thailand during the past 10 years, and we want to continue to do more in Taiwan,” said Lam.

China is “one of AXA IM’s key markets”, so the firm wants to offer local products to local clients in China. However, he stressed that the firm has an offshore team in Hong Kong, and it will concentrate on qualified domestic institutional investor (QDII) opportunities this year.

Launched in 2006, the QDII programme allows some domestic institutions and fund managers to invest offshore within specific quotas.

AXA IM’s China joint venture with Shanghai Pudong Development Bank was granted a $480m QDII quota on 30 November 2020, according to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (Safe).

Positive outlook for the region

Meanwhile, AXA IM is “constructive” on its outlook for 2022 following a tough year for equities in Asia in 2021.

“It is important to recognise that inflation in Asia is pretty subdued, unlike in other emerging markets, such as South America and Eastern Europe,” Simon Weston, head of AXA IM equities Asia, said in a research report.

“Korea, New Zealand and Pakistan have all raised rates already, which reflects an end to cheap money. Experience tells us that such a transition in the interest rate policy cycle can have quite an impact on equities,” Weston added.

The last time Asia went into a tightening cycle, back in 2013, some markets – notably India and Indonesia – were exposed to deficit issues; but that is no longer the case, he said. “The economic fundamentals look healthier now, despite the pandemic.”

A weak recovery in China equities is taking place, while the government provides more fiscal and monetary support, which will benefit the whole region, he said.

However, Aidan Yao, senior emerging Asia economist, warned about risks to China’s economy this year, due to an uncertain export outlook caused by Covid, a stuttering global recovery and supply chain blockages.

Part of the Mark Allen Group.