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Singapore boutique courts family office capital

SEA Asset, which recently received a full capital markets services (CMS) licence from MAS, sees new investor interest from family offices, according to Alex Zeeh, the firm's Singapore-based CEO.
Alexander Zeeh, SEA Asset Management

The firm had been managing investment funds and segregated accounts for accredited investors as a registered fund management company (RFMC), according to a statement from the firm.

However, RFMCs can only carry on a fund management business with no more than 30 qualified investors, of which no more than 15 may be funds or limited partnership fund structures, according to the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

In addition, the total value of the assets managed by RFMCs cannot exceed $250m ($182.9m).

“Business we were unable to pursue in the past, due to previous RFMC licence restrictions, included some family offices interested to inject AUM of more than $100m and coming on as new shareholders,” Zeeh told FSA.

In August 2017, the boutique manager’s AUM breached $100m.

The CMS licence, issued earlier this month, does not put a limit on AUM and allows the firm to provide more investment management services, portfolio management, marketing and sale of funds to accredited investors.

“The new licence will help the company expand its existing institutional business in Singapore,” the statement said.

Other firms that have received a CMS licence in Singapore this year include Zico Asset Management, the fund management arm of pan-Asean professional services network Zico Holdings; Lu International, which is a subsidiary of Shanghai-headquartered Lufax Holdings and Cape Town-based Miton Capital.

SEA manages two Luxembourg Sicav Ucits-compliant funds: the Asian High Yield Bond Fund and the Asian Equity Discovery Fund, which are for sale in different European markets, according to FE data. Both Sicav funds were launched in March 2015.

The firm most recently registered both funds for distribution in Switzerland and Austria, Zeeh said. Plans are to register the funds in other jurisdictions such as Italy.

SEA Asset is also looking at opportunities in cooperating or merging with smaller wealth and fund managers outside Singapore “to find synergies resolving their size constraints from a cost perspective”, he added.

The firm’s Asian equity and high yield bond funds versus their sectors, according to FE data.

Note: All fund and sector NAVs have been converted to US dollars

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