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May's most read: Manulife Asia CEO takes top job at Prudential; Family offices take renewed interest in private credit and real estate

Anil Wadhwani has joined Prudential as group CEO from Manulife Asia; GIC’s private equity investment looks beyond definitive ESG; Family offices show strong interest in alternative investments; Southeast Asia: the next hotbed for digital infrastructure investing; New private pension scheme could open up Chinese assets to foreign insurers; and more.
May's most read: Manulife Asia CEO takes top job at Prudential; Family offices take renewed interest in private credit and real estate

Manulife Asia CEO takes top job at Prudential

Anil Wadhwani has joined Prudential as its group chief executive officer (CEO), leaving his role as Asia chief at Manulife. Damien Green has been appointed his replacement.

Wadhwani replaces Mike Wells who had been group chief since 2015 and retired in February. Chief operating officer Mark FitzPatrick has been interim CEO ever since.

FitzPatrick will "continue to lead the business and support Wadhwani in his transition," the group said in a statement on Wednesday (May 25).

Prudential had previously said that the next CEO would be based in Hong Kong, but Covid restrictions had cast doubt on the move earlier this year.

GIC’s private equity investment looks beyond definitive ESG

Singapore’s GIC has said it will not pass on a private equity investment in a company or fund simply because it doesn’t have the data available to measure its ESG credentials accurately.

The sovereign wealth fund stressed that every fund manager or company is at a different stage of ESG development, so it would still consider giving capital to any that have the potential to generate alpha and improve their ESG performance in the long term.

“(Sometimes) somebody is nowhere (in ESG). But if they're a good investor that we find responsible who maybe has a plan to improve, that doesn't make them not investable. They may well be investable,” said Eric Wilmes, president and head of private equity, Americas at GIC.

Family offices show strong interest in alternative investments

With public markets under pressure, family offices are looking at alternative investments such as private credit and real estate to boost portfolio performance, according to a panel of experts at the Family Office Alternatives Exchange 2022 organised by AsianInvestor on May 19.

“When equities are down, fixed income is down, you need alternatives to provide either the steady yield that you've been expecting from fixed income or the returns from equities that you want to allocate to your bucket,” said Chauwei Yak, founder and chief executive of GAO Capital, a Singapore registered fund management company.

She said her firm, which started to increase allocation to alternative assets two years ago, is seeing the benefits of that strategy.

At Treasure Capital Asia, a Hong Kong-based single-family office, it takes a long-term investment view, focusing on direct private deals and collaborating with other family offices, said Alex Chan, the firm’s partner.

Southeast Asia: the next hotbed for digital infrastructure investing

Digital infrastructure investment is on the rise in Southeast Asia, buoyed by investor demand for alternative assets that can deliver stable dividends and attractive exit values, said industry experts.

The demand for digital infrastructure assets is expected to increase due to the rapid growth in e-commerce and the drive towards digital inclusivity in the region, they said.

“In terms of what’s in demand, data centres, fibre networks, and tower infrastructure are all of interest to investors,” Usman Akhtar, partner and head of private equity for Southeast Asia at Bain & Company, told AsianInvestor.

“Fibre (network) in Southeast Asia is already substantial ($3.5-4.5 billion in Indonesia, $4 billion in Malaysia, $2 billion in the Philippines) with massive growth potential,” he said, adding that Indonesia and Singapore have interesting opportunities for data centre investments.

New private pension scheme could open up Chinese assets to foreign insurers

Large foreign life insurance companies expect to grab a slice of China's new private pension system as they believe the market has substantial potential to grow.

On April 21, China’s State Council officially launched the much-awaited private pension scheme, or third pillar, after a four-year trial. It hopes the scheme will unleash vast household savings and ease the burden on the national pension fund.

China analysts said the number of people could start to fall fas soon as 2025.

“The new individual pension system is a significant step forward in offering more retirement funding options for China’s rapidly ageing population to meet their pension security needs,” said Lilian Ng, chief executive for insurance at Prudential.

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.
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