Posted inSoutheast Asia

Manulife IM offers healthcare opportunities in the Philippines, Malaysia

Unlike other markets in Asia, investment strategies focusing on the sector have not become widespread yet in both countries.
Healthcare business graph data and growth, Stethoscope with doctor's health report clipboard on table, Medical examination and doctor analyzing medical report on laptop screen.

Manulife Investment Management has brought its healthcare-focused strategy to investors in the Philippines and Malaysia this month.

Offered as a feeder fund in both markets, the product invests its assets into the Manulife Global Fund – Healthcare Fund, which is a Luxembourg-domiciled Sicav fund incepted in 2008 that invests in globally-listed companies in the healthcare sector.

The Manulife Global Fund – Healthcare Fund

Source: Fund factsheet. As of the end of November 2020.

The healthcare theme has become popular among global investors amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but asset managers operating in the Philippines and Malaysia have not taken advantage of the opportunity to launch healthcare funds to domestic investors.

In the Philippines, Manulife IM’s Healthcare Fund remains to be the only feeder unit investment trust fund (UITF) that invests into the theme, according to data from the Trust Officers Association of the Philippines (TOAP).

In fact, thematic products are not yet as widespread in the Philippines, with the majority of the feeder funds giving investors exposure to the broader global or regional markets. For example, there are only two global technology feeder funds available in the Philippines, TOAP data shows.

Meanwhile, in Malaysia, there is only one healthcare fund offered to domestic investors, according to data from FE Fundinfo. However, the fund – the Zurich Health Care Fund, is offered by an insurance firm, Zurich Life Insurance Malaysia, and not an asset manager.

Comparing both markets to Hong Kong and Singapore, there are 11 SFC-authorised healthcare funds available to retail investors in the SAR and 57 available to accredited investors in Singapore, according to FE.

“The global healthcare industry presents potentially profitable long-term investment opportunities in advancements focused on disease prevention, as in the case of the Covid-19 vaccine, as well as developments in central nervous system disorders (CNS), obesity or metabolic syndrome, and other rare cases,” Aira Gaspar, Manila-based president and CEO at Manulife Asset Management and Trust Corporation in the Philippines, said in a statement.

“The performance of healthcare is not limited to favourable cyclical drivers associated with the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Jason Chong, CEO at Manulife IM in Malaysia, said in another statement.

“In fact, we have seen three secular trends that could create long-term opportunities for the sector – increasing medical needs as the world population ages and living longer, solving ongoing health issues and challenges, and striving for medical breakthroughs,” he added.

The Manulife Global Fund – Healthcare Fund

Source: FE Fundinfo. In US dollars.

Part of the Mark Allen Group.