UK pension fund giant to establish unit in Hongkong

MERCURY Asset Management, the largest independent pension fund manager in Britain, will establish a fund management unit in Hongkong.

The fund manager has under its management GBP28 billion (about HK$336.56 billion) in pension funds, GBP6 billion in non-pension institutional funds and GBP1 billion in British private-client money.

Under its international arm, Warburg Asset Management, the group is setting up a team of three fund managers in Hongkong, to compliment two in Singapore and three in London.

Mercury manager Han Ong said Warburg had planned for a long time to establish a fund management service in Hongkong.

''The period of political uncertainty in Hongkong has made it imperative to be here as the signals coming from Hongkong in London, especially in the autumn last year, were unclear,'' he said.

The group has US$1 billion invested in Hongkong and a similar amount invested in the region.

The largest regional weightings outside of Hongkong are Malaysia and Singapore.

Mr Ong said: ''We felt we had to have an operation in Hongkong as we found it almost impossible to get a clear picture of what was going on here in this period of political uncertainty.

''Being based here means you can get out there and talk to people and, of course, it means that getting around the region is made that much easier as well.'' In Britain, the group is also the eighth largest authorised unit trust manager with US$460 million in an umbrella fund which is authorised for retail promotion in Hongkong under the Mercury name.

According to Hongkong Unit Trust Association estimates, there is about US$100 billion of funds under management in the region, most of which is managed by operations in Hongkong.