Opalesque Industry Update - Alternative mutual fund assets under management (AUM) in Asia ex-Japan totaled US$20.7 billion as of September last year, about 6.1% higher than at the end of 2012. |
Still, AUM in this space has mostly been on a slow uptick since 2009. Cerulli Associates believes that these allocations have primarily been driven by institutional and, to some extent, high-net-worth investors, rather than retail investors.
Rising investor appetites for alternatives and regulators' initiatives to develop their domestic alternatives landscapes have spurred things along. Institutional interest is underpinned by a burgeoning asset base and an increasing need for portfolio diversification, potentially higher yields, stable income, and as an inflation hedge.
Although alternative allocations are still small at most institutions, often accounting for less than 10% of their overall portfolios, it is notable that they are rising steadily. For example, Korea Investment Corporation (KIC) had nothing in alternatives in 2008, but by 2012 it had allocated nearly 11% of its assets to alternatives, including private equity, hedge funds, real estate, commodities, and special investments.
Recognizing institutions' growing taste for alternatives, some global fund houses traditionally focused on long-only assets are stepping up their alternatives capabilities.
There were notable acquisitions last year: Franklin Templeton in June bought the remaining 80% stake in Pelagos Capital Management, which manages a commodities, managed futures, and hedge fund replication strategy, while BlackRock announced in May an agreement to purchase MGPA, a London-based private equity real estate manager.
However, the path of institutions toward alternatives will likely remain slow. "For one, they will need time to integrate the different arms and fully build up alternative investment capabilities, to the extent that they can rival pure-play private equity or real estate management firms," says Chin Chin Quah, a senior analyst at Cerulli Associates.
press release from Cerulli Associates Asia Pte Ltd