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Natixis AM to expand client base in Asia

Natixis Asset Management, which will be rebranded as Ostrum Asset Management on 3 April, aims to expand its AUM coming from the private and retail banking segments in Asia, according to Fabrice Chemouny, Hong Kong-based head of Asia-Pacific of the firm’s holding company, Natixis Investment Managers.
Natixis AM to expand client base in Asia
Fabrice Chemouny, Natixis Investment Managers

“As with many global managers, we started to develop Asia first with institutional [clients],” Chemouny told FSA.

At the moment, institutional money accounts for around 90% of Natixis AM’s AUM sourced from the region, according to Chemouny. “Ten percent is in wholesale and retail, so this is definitely an area of development for us,” he said.

Chemouny’s ambition for the new brand, Ostrum AM, is to have 25% of its AUM come from wholesale and retail clients by 2020. Its key target markets for those segments are Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

He noted that Natixis AM started targeting retail and wholesale clients five years ago, starting first in Singapore, and most recently in Hong Kong. The firm is also currently launching products in Taiwan, he added.

At the moment, Natixis AM’s product offerings in Asia are mostly focused in Europe, including two fixed income and a small- to mid-cap equity funds, according to FE data.

Rebranding strategy 

Expansion of the client base is one of the reasons why Natixis AM and its parent, Natixis Investment Managers, decided to rebrand it as Ostrum AM, according to Lientu Lieu, the firm’s Paris-based head of business strategy.

Lientu Lieu, Natixis Asset Management

“We want to broaden our spectrum of clients and we also want to broaden the investment strategies that we have,” she said.

Another reason for the rebranding was to avoid confusion between the parent and the affiliate. “Natixis Investment Managers have so many affiliates (22 according to its website), and one of them is Natixis Asset Management, which is definitely confusing,” Chemouny said.

Lieu noted that Natixis AM is the firm’s largest affiliate, managing €324.5bn ($400.82bn) in assets globally, with 78% of assets coming from institutional clients.

Natixis IM also underwent a name change late last year; it was previously called Natixis Global Asset Management. The rationale for the name change was to better highlight the firm’s multi-affiliate business model.

The multi-affiliate model carries its own business challenges. Chemouny acknowledged that affiliates might compete with one another. However, even though their offerings might be very similar, their investment processes are different, he noted.

“It depends on the client’s needs,” Chemouny said. He added that Natixis IM has a single sales team set up in every market in which it operates, selling the whole range of products from its affiliates.

New investment capabilities

Natixis AM plans to offer Asia-focused products in the region in addition to its European offerings. It is currently hiring an Asia-based fixed income portfolio manager, according to Ibrahima Kobar, the firm’s Paris-based deputy CEO and chief investment officer for fixed income.

Ibrahima Kobar, Natixis Asset Management

“We have discussed that we definitely need an Asian credit [product],” Chemouny said.

Natixis AM already has an equity team in Singapore that was established three years ago. In the fixed income space, the firm has three credit analysts – one of whom was first relocated from Paris to Singapore in 2015 and the two others hired in mid-2016, according to Kobar.

Kobar will be meeting up with potential candidates for the portfolio manager role this week in Singapore, he said, noting that the manager could also be based in Hong Kong.

Besides its mutual fund offerings, the firm also plans to further promote its real asset products in the region, starting with institutional investors and then private banks, Kobar said. Real assets include infrastructure and real estate.

However, Chemouny acknowledged that individuals may not be ready to invest in real assets because of their illiquid nature.

Part of the Mark Allen Group.