Singapore Hedge Fund

Alternative asset management in Singapore

Singapore consults hedge funds on stricter regulations

From the Wealth Bulletin, news that Singapore’s central bank is holding informal talks with hedge fund executives on ways to toughen up the regulatory regime for the city-state’s growing alternative investment sector, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Industry sources say ideas being deliberated upon in the discussions include the introduction of minimum requirements for asset size, professionally qualified employees, working capital and professional indemnity arrangements.

Wealth Bulletin

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Fullerton aims to extend Singapore’s reach by wooing the European investor

The city state of Singapore punches well above its weight in the world of investment. Between them Temasek Holdings and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, the tiny nation’s twin sovereign wealth funds, manage an estimated $400bn (£245bn, €280bn) of assets.

But Singapore is not resting on its laurels; it is about to wade into the congested European asset management industry as part of a plan to raise its assets under management higher still.

Fullerton Fund Management, the funds offshoot of Temasek, currently manages just $2.3bn of external money, in addition to the assets of its parent.

But Fullerton hopes to bolster this tally by launching its first European Ucits funds via the migration of two existing vehicles from the Cayman Islands to Luxembourg before the end of the year.

Gerald Lee, chief executive and founder of Fullerton, believes the move is essential to crack the European market, which currently accounts for just 5 per cent of its customer base.

“We have funds registered in Singapore as well as in the Cayman Islands but there’s just no way we can penetrate the [European] market, if the fund structure is not right. We realise that if we don’t put funds on a Ucits platform we can be marketing here every day, but we won’t get a single cent.”

Fullerton’s initial offerings will reflect its expertise in Asian securities, but with an interesting twist. One fund, Fullerton Asian Equities, is a straightforward relative return product. But the other, Fullerton Absolute Return Asian Equities, is a market timing vehicle which allows the manager significant freedom to switch between equities and cash in anticipation of market rallies and slumps.

Mr Lee is adamant that his managers are able to time the markets in this manner, in spite of the fact that many of the world’s most successful equity managers say such timing abilities are beyond them.

“The whole idea is to take away enslavement to the index. We discover that the moment you do that, actually equity managers do have a very great sense of market timing, contrary to popular belief,” says Mr Lee, who was head of fixed income sales at SBC Warburg Singapore and deputy chief investment officer at Deutsche Asset Management Singapore prior to joining Temasek in 1999.

“I come from a fixed income background, I spent my years in a business as a fixed income manager, so I always found it very perplexing that equity managers claim that they don’t know how to time the market.

“Here I was trading bonds and managing bond portfolios knowing that, actually, it’s not a very difficult call. You don’t need to be somebody with high IQ, you just need to have a very good sense of what is happening.

“You always know when the market is overbought and you know when the market is oversold. Equity managers are capable of market timing and we want to put that to good use.”

Even armed with this information, picking turning points is notoriously hard. During the latter stages of the 1990s bull market, many managers were all too aware that a host of technology, media and telecoms stocks were wildly overvalued, but those managers brave enough to exit these sectors suffered as the TMT bubble continued to inflate, and in many cases lost their jobs as a result.

Mr Lee is aware of the difficulties, but believes the answer is to mandate absolute return managers to beat deposit rates by 5 to 7 percentage points a year over the cycle.

They are likely to exceed this in a bull market, even if they have not participated fully in the rally, giving them the freedom to bail out without being fearful as to their future employment prospects.

“The absolute return guy actually knows how to take money away from the table when things are overheated,” argues Mr Lee. “Where he really adds value is when the market starts falling apart and he has everything very nicely in cash.”

According to Mr Lee, Fullerton first trialled market timing with some of its equity managers five years ago, and the experience has been “very pleasant”.

However, the experience of the Fullerton Absolute Return Asian Equities fund since launch in 2007 has been somewhat less pleasant. During 2008 it lost 37 per cent, against a 52 per cent drop in its underlying Asia ex-Japan index.

Mr Lee largely blames investors for this state of affairs arguing that, with the fund launched during a bull market, investors were unwilling to accept Fullerton’s recommendation that the “neutral” equity weighting should have been 30-50 per cent and instead insisted neutral should be 70 per cent.

“They wanted to have their cake and eat it,” he says.

Fullerton also has plans to go after US investors, but these are unlikely to be firmed up until next year at the earliest, when it is able to start learning some of the lessons from its European push.

In spite of the imminent migration of two of Fullerton’s vehicles from the Caymans, Mr Lee is reluctant to sound the death knell for the Caribbean offshore financial centre, which some see as a potential loser from moves by the US and Europe to stem tax avoidance and tighten regulation of the financial system.

“There is a critical mass of excellence in the Caymans, in terms of people knowing the legal and administrative aspect, so I think they continue to have the advantage,” he says.

Yet, following budget changes in February which improved the tax treatment of funds in Fullerton’s home market, Mr Lee adds: “I can see that more and more hedge funds domiciled in Singapore may not find it necessary to incorporate their funds in Cayman as before.”

Further change may be afoot for Fullerton, however. Last month, Temasek said it would be prepared to list some of its biggest holdings, such as port operator PSA and Singapore Power, adding that even Fullerton itself could be suited to a float.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/42d49b3c-9979-11de-ab8c-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1

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Boris tries to save london's first place!

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson

Mr Johnson was there to argue against “enormously damaging” plans to tighten regulation, saying that it would drive jobs in the capital elsewhere and cost the UK billions in tax revenues as business relocated to other financial centres such as New York and Singapore.

“After a series of meetings I am confident we have successfully made a concrete and sensible argument,” the Mayor said. “Amongst the British MEPs I met, there was widespread recognition of the potentially damaging effect that the directive, in its current form, will have on London, the UK and Europe. I was encouraged by MEPs to continue to lobby for the modification of the directive.”

Mr Johnson said that he had a “very friendly, warm and constructive” meeting with Charlie McCreevy, the EU Commissioner responsible for the regulation of financial services.

“Commissioner McCreevy realises the importance of the capital’s financial services industry to London, as well as Europe, and recognises that the directive will be, and should be, amended as it makes its journey through the European Parliament. He encouraged us to continue to play our part in this process and I fully intend to do so,” the Mayor added.

He has maintained throughout that the draft directive is unduly harsh on hedge funds and private equity, which he says were not to blame for the financial crisis. He said he is in favour of “proportionate regulation” but argued in its current form it would cut off a vital supply of investment funding from an industry which currently employs 7,000 people directly in private equity in London and a further 35,000 directly and indirectly within hedge fund management. About 80pc of European hedge funds and 60pc of European private equity funds are located in London, according to the Mayor.

The Alternative Investment Fund Management draft directive was published by the European Commission in April. Mr Johnson has dismissed the plans as protectionist and anti-competitive, and claimed they display ignorance about the workings of the industry.

He has argued that the correct thing to do would be to regulate at the global level through the G20.

JVB with the telegraph

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Singapore-based Hedge Fund, LionRock Capital, Eyes Family Offices, Endowments

According to Total Alternatives, Hari Kumar, co-founder of Singapore-based LionRock Capital, has begun approaching investors for its recently launched LionRock Master Fund. The multi-strategy fund launched on June 15 with $75 million of partners’ capital, but now Kumar, along with co-founders Ben Freischmidt and Julian Snaiph, are approaching family offices, endowments and funds of funds. The capacity is $1 billion.
Total Alternatives

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Korean Firms Found Hedge Fund Platforms in Singapore and Hong Kong

From FINalternatives, news of the build up of hedge fund platforms in Singapore and in Hong Kong.

As the Asian hedge fund industry rises from the ashes of last year’s huge losses and huge redemptions, a number of Korean financial services firms are hoping to play middleman in the resurgent space.

Kookmin Bank, Industrial Bank of Korea, Samsung Securities and Woori Investment & Securities have earmarked more than US$1 billion to build up hedge fund platforms for institutional investors, Asian Investor reports. Woori and Samsung have set up their platforms in Singapore, while Kookmin has opted for Asia’s hedge fund capital, Hong Kong.

Hwang Sung-ho, CEO of Woori I&S, said the firm’s platform is small, but that it is investing substantial resources into building it up. The firm hopes it will be the centerpiece of a multi-asset strategy group.

Woori is also creating a hedge fund index, AI reports.

FINalternatives

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New Asia-focused team at FrontPoint

FrontPoint Partners hired a new Asia-focused event-driven and special situations hedge fund investment team, led by portfolio manager John Foo.

The Singapore-based team all came from Kingsmead Capital Advisors, which Mr. Foo founded.

Joining him is Edgar Chia, analyst, and Hubert Yong, trader; they held similar positions at Kingsmead Capital, according to a FrontPoint news release.

Kingsmead Capital liquidated its similarly managed Asian hedge fund in July 2008, said Erica Platt, a spokeswoman for FrontPoint’s parent, Morgan Stanley Investment Management.

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Singapore-based Asia Genesis to Close Hedge Funds

From Bloomberg, news that Singapore-based Asia Genesis, whose Japan Macro Fund has outperformed its peers, is to close its hedge funds and returning money to investors.

“I need some time to recuperate from weak health,” founder Chua Soon Hock, 50, said in an e-mailed reply to queries from Bloomberg News. “In past years, I have been doing 18-hour workdays with very active positions’ management to keep downside volatility of funds very low. I cannot do that with my current health conditions.”

The Singapore-based hedge-fund firm will return all money invested in the $761 million Japan Macro Fund and $12 million in the Asia Genesis Equity Fund to investors by mid-September, Chua said on Aug. 14.

The Japan Macro Fund returned 24 percent in yen terms in the first seven months of the year. Asia-focused macro hedge funds gained 12.4 percent over the same period, according to Eurekahedge Pte, a Singapore-based industry data provider. Global macro managers wager on currencies, equities, interest rates and commodities based on their fundamental analysis of world economic trends.

The Asia Genesis Equity Fund, which started in May, returned 8.9 percent as of the end of July. The fund uses a long-short strategy, buying stocks the manager expects to rise and hedging those bets with short sales, or the selling of shares expected to drop.

Bloomberg

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Alternative investment management firm K-Atlas, based in Singapore, achieves spectacular returns in 2008

From JoonangDaily, news of a Singapore based joint venture between Korean and US investment  firms, that achieved very high growth in 2008.

Though many were toppled in the United States during the ongoing economic crisis, becoming an investment bank is still the holy grail for many financial institutions in Korea.

Korea Investment Holdings is one of those companies, and its management believes that despite uncertainty over the timing, the economy will get back to normal, and it will just be a matter of time before this dream becomes a reality.  And it may have a shot. Unlike other banking-focused financial groups in Korea, KIH is a holding company with emphasis on its brokerage and asset management businesses, key areas with high growth potential in investment banking.

In February 2008, Korea Investment Holdings and Atlas Capital Management established K-Atlas Advisors, a Singapore-based manager of alternative investment funds, and the launch of K-Atlas Fund, a Singapore-domiciled alternative investment fund targeting hedge fund and private equity investments.

K-Atlas posted more than 70-percent cumulative return rates for 2008, despite the global economic meltdown.

JoonangDaily

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Recruitment starting again for hedge funds based in Singapore and Hong Kong.

From efinancialcareers.sg, some good news on Asian Hedge Funds with new activity noted in Singapore and Hong Kong. The dark days may at last be over for Asia’s hedge fund sector, but recruitment is still selective, senior and sales-focused, with a real recovery not expected until next year.

Hedge funds are making a minor comeback after suffering their worst year on record in 2008, outperforming global benchmarks and experiencing an inflow of new assets, according to data provider Eurekahedge.

Asia has experienced a lot of the recent action. Winton Capital Management, for example, is starting a new fund in Japan and hiring staff in Hong Kong – its expansion coming just months after rivals like GSO Capital Partners, HBK and Ramius retreated from the region.

And ex-bankers are seizing the opportunity to start up their own firms in Asia. The list of budding fund managers includes: Nick Taylor, ex-head of Citadel Investment’s principal investments business in Asia and Europe; Shafiq Karmali, a former Goldman Sachs trader; and Edwin Wong, previously a Lehman Brothers MD.

Hedge fund recruitment is for now small-scale and focused on the front office. Jared Ng, regional consulting director, PeopleSearch explains: “Because short-term revenue is essential for the survival of companies to meet their short-term liability, revenue-generating jobs are more in demand. As a result, there have been more openings for sales positions.”

Peter Douglas, Asia Pacific council member for the Alternative Investment Management Association, says funds want experienced professionals who can hit the ground running. “In Singapore, Artradis, for example, has been taking on some senior people, basically taking advantage of a cyclical opportunity to add talent that’s now available,” he adds.

Funds that have not been so badly affected by the financial crisis are starting to recruit again after lying low for the past nine months, says Angela Kuek, manager, banking and financial services at Hudson in Singapore.

Douglas thinks the current fund inflows in Asia are coming mainly from specialist investors. The “real volume” is likely to return next year when more capital enters the market. “Asset size directly drives revenues and therefore the capacity and inclination to hire,” he adds.

efinancialcareers.sg

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Martin Currie Investment Management is reported to be about to launch an Asian marketing office in Singapore

martincurrieFrom the Hedge Funds Club, Edinburgh-based Martin Currie Investment Management is launching an Asian marketing office in Singapore. The firm also plans to add a dealing desk in Singapore in the coming year.
The Hedge Funds Club

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