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Blackrock plans thematic funds in Hong Kong

The asset management giant joins the parade of firms launching thematic funds in Asia.

Blackrock has received approval from the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) this month to launch three thematic funds to Hong Kong’s retail public.

They are the BGF Fintech Fund, the Future of Transport Fund and the Next Generation Technology Fund, according to the regulator’s records. The firm also received a green light to launch the Global Bond Income Fund.

While the fintech and transport funds focus on specific themes, the Next Generation Technology Fund has a broader investment universe, which includes companies that focus on artificial intelligence, computing, automation, robotics, e-commerce and communications technology, according to the funds’ prospectus.

The products are relatively new, with the global bond fund incepted in July and the three thematic funds in September, according to their prospectus.

The same products were launched in Singapore in December, according to records from the Monetary Authority of Singapore. At the time, the firm also launched emerging market ESG-focused funds in the Lion City.

FSA sought more information from Blackrock, but the firm did not comment whether the ESG funds will be launched in Hong Kong.

Blackrock’s Fintech product is the first SFC-authorised fintech fund in Hong Kong, according to SFC records.

However, in Singapore, three other fintech products have been made available to investors: the Axa World Funds Framlington Fintech Fund, the Robeco Global Fintech Equities Fund and the Wellington Fintech Fund, according to data from FE.

On the smart transportation or mobility front, other products include the BNY Mellon Mobility Innovation Fund, the RobecoSAM Smart Mobility Fund and the NB Next Generation Mobility Fund, which were all launched last year, FE data shows.

The theme trend

The fund approvals come at a time when thematic funds are gaining popularity in the region.

In Hong Kong, in spite of the net outflows of $1.9bn in equity funds last year, thematic equity funds had net inflows of $867.3m, according to a Cerulli report.

“As managers and distributors woo Hong Kongers with various stories, a few product ideas have emerged in the market, typically revolving around long-term themes such as funds investing in the robotics sector or sustainable investing,” the report said.

Other fund managers have also begun offering thematic funds in the region, including Allianz Global Investors, which registered three thematic funds in Singapore in January and UOB Asset Management.

Hong Kong-based Value Partners also launched in February the Asian Innovation Opportunities Fund, which is a mixed-asset fund, and is set to launch the Asian Innovation Equity Fund within the next four months.

Even Natixis Investment Managers last month established a Paris-based affiliate, Thematics Asset Managers, that will focus on thematic strategies, including safety, water, and artificial intelligence and robotics.

Not all distributors are easily convinced with thematic products, however. Pierre DeGagné, Singapore-based head of fund selection at DBS Private Bank, for example, said recently that the bank steers away from products that revolve around specific concepts and prefers broader themes.

Part of the Mark Allen Group.