In terms of assets and staff, how big is Mirae’s Asia operation in comparison to its presence in other markets in the world?
We manage $100bn in assets, of which Asian assets are between $80bn and $90bn. We have 600 people working in the business, half based in Korea and the rest in another 12 countries. In Asia, we have 120 investment professionals across seven countries. Most of our people, assets and distribution are in Asia.
I am based in Hong Kong, which is the international business hub for Mirae Asset Global Investments, where we have more than 60 people, including 18 investment professionals covering the Asia ex Japan market and single countries such as China, India and Korea.
As one of the largest managers of emerging market equities globally, Mirae is one of the few Asia managers with a distribution capability outside Asia. We are differentiated by our on-the-ground, bottom-up research capability. We specialise in understanding economic drivers, based on key consumer trends in developing markets.
The Hong Kong office is the global distributor of our 19 Luxembourg-domiciled Ucits funds. These are targeted at European investors but they are also for those in South America, Australia, Middle East and Asia.
Global equities and fixed income are less than 10% of the assets, though we are seeking to bolster our fixed-income capability.
The company was founded in Asia in 1997, and we expanded our distribution network to Europe in 2008. Our London office is the hub for our distribution in the region, and our key countries are the UK, France and Germany, as well as the French and German-speaking regions in Switzerland.
How are you looking to diversify the range to appeal to European investors?
We strongly believe Asian equity and fixed-income markets are still inefficient, which provides active managers better ground to seek investment opportunities than in the developed markets.
We want to maintain our key capabilities in terms of product offerings, which is in the areas of Asian equities, Asian credit and fixed income, and we will expand our product range over the next three
to five years. We are also about to launch our Asia Pacific Multi-Asset Income Fund, which will be a new addition to our existing Sicav range
Multi-asset and absolute return strategies, property and hedge funds are also areas we will be developing in the short to medium term. We already have three hedge funds, one is a pan-Asia equity long/short strategy and, in the second quarter of this year, we are expecting to offer this strategy through the Cayman Island fund structure.
On top of our traditional strong franchise and Asian equities, we will be diversifying our product range.
In terms of branding, do you think you are getting the message across with enough differentiation from your peers?
We are one of the leading Asian asset managers, not just a single country manager. We provide comprehensive and integrated strategies to cover the industry as a single asset allocation, and this is our point of differentiation.
We also have offices on the ground in Mumbai, India, for example, where we have a $1bn local business. In our home country of Korea, we have a market-leading asset manager.
The firm’s Asian heritage means we have an advantage in terms of expertise and knowledge in Asia and the wider emerging markets. Investing in emerging markets is fundamentally different to investing in developed markets due to the irregularities, inefficiencies and lower levels of transparency.
How important is China as a market for you, and what difference does the granting of private fund management licences for foreign companies make to your plans?
Our capability in China has been building over the past 10 years. Mirae has become the first foreign manager to have successfully converted an advisory wholly foreign-owned enterprise (WFOE) licence in China into one that allows us to carry out investment management-related activities.