Firms ramp up alts capabilities in Asia

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Franklin Templeton has entered a joint venture with Hong Kong-based Asia Alternatives, while JP Morgan Asset Management makes additional hires for its alternatives business.

Franklin Templeton Private Equity (FTPE), which will be majority owned by Franklin Templeton, will provide investors with global private equity fund-of-fund products, according to a joint statement from the firms. Operations of the San Francisco-based joint venture are expected to begin next month.

Franklin Templeton’s alternative products include private equity, hedge funds, commodities, real estate, infrastructure and venture capital strategies, according to a Hong Kong-based spokeswoman, who declined to provide a figure for alternatives AUM.

Asia Alternatives is an Asia private equity fund-of-funds specialist managing $11bn in assets. It primarily invests in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, India and Australia.

“We are bringing together Franklin Templeton’s global footprint, Asia Alternatives’ distinct fund-of-funds investment capabilities, and a new and dedicated management team to deliver differentiated global offerings to FTPE investors,” Melissa Ma, co-founder and managing partner at Asia Alternatives, said in the statement.

FTPE will be led by managing partner Arthur Wang, who will assemble a new team in October. Before FTPE, he was managing director for private markets at San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System, according to the statement.

JP Morgan AM hires

Separately, JP Morgan AM has made additional hires for its alternative investment arm, JP Morgan Global Alternatives, which manages assets of around $130bn, according to a statement from the firm. The new hires will be focusing on hedge funds, which account for $17bn of the firm’s alternative assets.

The firm has appointed Lyn Ngooi in the newly-created role of hedge fund solutions investment specialist for Asia-Pacific clients.

Ngooi, based in Singapore, reports to Karim Leguel, who is the newly-promoted London-based head of international investment specialist team for hedge fund solutions.

Ngooi will not be managing money and has a more client-facing role, according to a Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for the firm. She will be responsible for communicating market outlook, investment strategy and performance to clients.

“In the face of the long-in-the-tooth economic expansion, the threats of a global trade war and the return of equity volatility, investors are significantly increasing their target allocations to hedge funds,” Jamie Kramer, New York-based global head of alternatives solutions group, said in the statement.

The new hires follows the establishment of the firm’s ASG, which recently included the appointment of Shawn Khazzam, Hong Kong-based Asia-Pacific head for ASG.

The ASG team has a client-focused function and will serve high net worth individuals and institutional investors, according to the firm.

More alts

Other firms have also recently established a private equity business, citing what they perceive as increasing demand for alternatives.

Hong Kong-based Value Partners, for example, partnered with Hong Kong-listed private education provider China Education to establish a private equity fund in July. The fund invests in companies that are related to private vocational schools in China.

In Malaysia, Affin Hwang Asset Management launched a private equity business, Bintang Capital Partners. The establishment of the business is the formalisation of the asset management firm’s foray into the private equity market, which began in June 2017 with a maiden transaction.

“When we first came up with the idea of setting up a private equity business in 2015, I realised that the strong demand from both our institutional and high net worth clients for more sophisticated solutions, including private equity, will only grow over time,” Wai Teng Chee, the firm’s managing director, said in a statement.

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