The diverse range of the countries, economies, and assets owners in Asia Pacific was illustrated in AsianInvestor’s coverage of the region’s asset management industry in July.
The newsmakers in July span from New Zealand in the Pacific, over Indonesia and Thailand at opposite ends of Southeast Asia, and Korea, Japan and Taiwan in Northeast Asia.
Another noteworthy story was how family offices in Hong Kong and Singapore are looking at investment opportunities in the Middle East, especially in the increasingly assertive Saudi Arabia.
Key themes that emerged across talks with asset owners were rising rates impacting portfolio shifts, how to boost ESG efforts and revamping external manager mandates.
Taiwan's Bureau of Labor Funds has instituted wide-ranging reforms to its staff structure and contractual terms since Su Yu-ching took over as director general in 2021.
Under Su's leadership, the $201 billion pension fund - seeking to regain public trust following a bribery scandal - has implemented staff rotations across departments, built an internal ESG research team, and revised mandates with external asset managers – including a revamp of BLF’s bond strategy amid rising rates.
The Government Pension Fund (GPF) places high emphasis on environment, social and governance (ESG) when it selects investment managers, and expects them to deliver alpha using a bottom-up approach, a senior investment official told AsianInvestor.
The fund uses external managers for a wide variety of investments, said Man Juttijudata, deputy secretary general responsible for investment strategy, fund management and sustainable investments.
Family offices in Hong Kong and Singapore are seeing attractive investment opportunities in the Middle East, particularly in agriculture and technology in Saudi Arabia.
Several Hong Kong family offices are exploring setting up representative offices in Dubai to tap emerging opportunities in the region, according to executives.
Indonesia’s social security fund, BPJS Ketenagakerjaan, is keen to add to its direct investments, a senior executive told AsianInvestor.
“The fund is allowed to invest up to 5% of its assets in direct investments, such as private equity, private credit, property, etc. That is where we believe the growth is. So far, the deployed capital is less than 0.3%, so there is room for us to allocate to direct investments,” said Edwin Ridwan, director of investment development.
Rising interest rates in developed markets and a yen losing value are pushing the Pension Fund of Japanese Corporations (PFJC) – which manages several corporate pension plans – to tweak its investment strategy.
In particular, should rising rates put the brakes on the global economy, interesting investment prospects could emerge, according to Yoshisuke (Yoshi) Kiguchi, chief investment officer for PFJC.
The Korean Police Mutual Aid Association (PMAA) is shifting its focus away from alternative investments and towards public assets, in the hopes of increasing portfolio liquidity and adapting to higher interest rates.
The W5 trillion ($3.9 billion) fund had almost 70% of total assets under management (AUM) invested in alternatives by end-2022, while fixed income stood at 25%, and equity at 5% — but this ratio is already starting to shift, according to Han Jong-seok, chief investment officer at PMAA.
Despite being one of the younger sovereign wealth funds - established in 2001 - the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZ Super) is recognised by industry experts as a sophisticated institutional investor.
NZ Super recently achieved a perfect score on Global SWF’s 2023 GSR scoreboard that assesses the progress of various global investor firms around governance, sustainability, and resilience (GSR) since 2020.