Hong Kong-based fund manager Lloyd George Management has formed an investment alliance with Japan's third-biggest insurance group, Sumitomo Life Insurance Co (SLIC), to develop and sell new investment trust products. The deal, announced yesterday, will give SLIC a 5 per cent stake in the home-grown investment operation which has US$1.8 billion of assets under management. Lloyd George chief investment officer Scobie Ward said the company would offer Asian emerging markets expertise, while gaining entry to SLIC's immense distribution capabilities in Japan. 'We believe this alliance will have very positive consequences, not only for our growth in assets, but also for the depth of our investment-management capabilities,' he said. A pan-Asian and Japan equity fund targeting Japanese retail investors is scheduled for launch next month. With Japan having been out of investor favour for so long, combined with the stellar performance of US and European markets, many funds were now seriously underweight and would be looking to correct their asset allocations, Mr Ward said. SLIC, through its funds-management arm Sumisei Global, will manage the 60 per cent Japanese equity component, while Lloyd George will manage the remaining 40 per cent, made up of Asian stocks. A second fund, to be marketed more broadly across the region to both retail investors and institutions, is at the development stage.