Dubai: The newly-appointed senior executive officer of Emirates NBD Asset Management Salman Bajwa wants to take their operations to the next level.
After successful regional distribution of their funds, Bajwa seeks to sell them in Europe and the Far east, readying itself for foreign participation before the 1.6 trillion-riyal Saudi market, the region’s biggest, gets included in the MSCI Emerging market index.
“We have a proud history as a regional house in terms of both our products and clients, and now we are developing ambitions to sell our funds globally. We want to distribute our funds in Europe and the Far East,” Bajwa told Gulf News in an exclusive interview.
The fund manager has been trying to stitch the strategy together for a long time.
It already has partnerships with Jupiter Asset Management and UTI International for their products. Now the joint venture will transcend itself to a new level, where Emirates NBD Asset Management will look to sign distribution partners to market their funds.
“There will be a lot of international investors who will want to come to the region when the Saudi markets open up, with our Jersey and Luxembourg domiciled fund range, multi-year track record, strong parent backing, stable investment management team and comprehensive product suite we would be the perfect partner of choice for their investment portfolios,” he added.
Analysts feel that the big boost for Saudi equities will come in the form of its inclusion in the MSCI emerging market index.
“Our expectation is that this news will be the catalyst for a sharp rally, similar to that which was witnessed in the UAE and Qatar at the time of their inclusion,” Bajwa said.
Ahead of the announcement of MSCI inclusion in 2014, the UAE markets gained 115 per cent, while Qatar stocks rose 48 per cent.
Franklin Templeton also sees a boost to Saudi and regional equities because of the inclusion, expecting regional inflows of $40-50 billion in the Mena.
“We are looking to talk to our clients in order to prepare them for this opportunity so they are ready when the time comes to deploy and take advantage of this,” Bajwa said.
“This is something that we see as a potential opportunity in the second half of this year for investors to take advantage of and benefit from capital gains,” he added.
Emirates NBD asset management is also positive on Indian equities fund along with the bonds funds in emerging market space.
Promoting to clients
“The ESCA approval for distribution of the [India] fund came last month and since then we have been promoting it to our clients. The current size of the fund is approximately $20 million and we are expecting to grow it in the coming quarters,” Bajwa said.
In all, the bottom line is the new initiatives is expected to have a positive impact on Dh14.5 billion of the assets under management (AUM).
“This [AUM] figure is on an upward trajectory and it has been growing strongly over the past four years; we expect to maintain that positive trend. We want to have balanced growth across all our product lines while at the same time keeping profitability high,” Bajwa said.