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Scale concerns see First State split FSS business

Added 18th March 2015

First State Investments has decided to split First State Stewart into two in a bid to retain its flexible investment approach.

Scale concerns see First State split FSS business

According to a letter sent to clients on Monday, the firm will split FSS into two investment teams, one based in Edinburgh, to be rebranded Stewart Investors and the other, FSS Asia based in Hong Kong.

Both teams will remain part of the wider First State Investments, and will continue to report to global chief executive, Mark Lazberger.

The group said the move should enable the two teams to better “develop their business, to plan for succession and to take on new clients as capacity allows.”

It added, while the firm has been disciplined in its management of funds, closing those it felt required it in order to prevent capacity issues from affecting performance, the team has continued to grow along with assets.

According to Stuart Paul, managing partner at FSS, the need to remain small and informal in how the firm makes investment decisions remains central to the group’s thinking. And, in order “to avoid the creep of hierarchy and formulaic process” the decision was taken to split the team in two, to allow “each to move forward as smaller, flexible businesses.”

As a result of the change: “All members of the GEM [global emerging markets]/ worldwide and sustainability groups, together with Angus Tulloch, Chris McGoldrick, Douglas Ledingham and Tom Allen, from the current Asia Pacific group, will become part of Stewart Investors,” the firm said.

“All other team members in the Asia-Pacific / Greater China group will form part of FSS Asia.”

As a result of this, David Gait will replace Richard Jones as co-manager of the Asia Pacific Leaders fund, while it said Jonathan Asante will relocate to the UK in 2015/2016.

The other significant change is that, in future, there will be no linkage in terms of research.

“Portfolio management responsibilities will remain the same with GEM/ worldwide, sustainability and most Asia-Pacific funds, including Asia Pacific Leaders, managed by Stewart Investors out of Edinburgh.

Asia Equity Leaders, Asia Select, Far East Leaders, Greater China and single country mandates (including Hong Kong, Singapore, India and Malaysia) will be managed by FSS Asia out of Hong Kong,” the firm said.

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