PA ANALYSIS: First State to emerge as EMD player

First State’s new emerging market debt capability could be the start of some serious asset gathering


F&C has a long-standing emerging market debt proposition though it is not necessarily the first association that investors would make with F&C. For the past 15 years, Helene Williamson has been at the head of its EM debt team, running the €100m F&C Emerging Markets Bond Fund launched in January 2006. Its five-year record shows returns of 50%+.

She is now going to turn her hand to putting her own team together at First State, the Australian emerging market specialist that, to date, has been heavily focused on equities with around £30bn in assets under management.

In fact Williamson will be setting up the firm’s first fixed income capability so expect announcements soon of new joiners with specialist bond and in particular debt expertise.

First State has emerging markets experience in spades, with the £700m Global Emerging Markets Fund as its flagship proposition and Jonathan Asante alongside Glen Finegan at its helm. The regional expertise is already in place, the top down knowledge is in hand and Williamson can now bring her 30 years’ experience to bear in an organisation that has the resources to make any planned fund launches a success.

Last year, $75bn was invested worldwide in emerging market debt so she is well placed to start eating into this and, bearing in mind the asset class is a long-term investment, this could be one of the shrewdest business moves of the year.