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First State to overhaul star duo’s Asia equity fund

First State to overhaul star duo’s Asia equity fund

First State Investments has rebranded and refocused the Asia Innovation fund overseen by Citywire AA-rated Richard Jones and A-rated Alistair Thompson, Citywire Selector has learned.

In a shareholder letter, the asset manager said it intends to rename the fund as the First State Asia Opportunities fund, while also adjusting the underlying investment philosophy.

It will see the fund move away from the ‘innovation’ emphasis which was introduced when the Dublin-domiciled strategy was first launched in 2002.

Instead, the fund will now focuses on assets from the Asia region, excluding Australia, New Zealand and Japan, without the overt emphasis on IT, technology and biotechnology stocks.

The $34.9 million fund currently has 21.3% of its exposure in IT, while industrials (15.3%) and healthcare (12.9%) are also well-represented. The largest counter investment is currently in Hong Kong at 18.4%, which is narrowly ahead of the 18.3% invested in India.

Veteran duo Thompson and Jones currently co-manage several funds covering the Asian market, these include the First State Asian Growth, First State Singapore Growth and First State Singapore & Malaysia Growth funds.

On a three-year total return basis, the First State Asia Innovation fund has returned 26.8% in US dollar terms. This is while the MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex Japan TR USD, its Citywire-assigned benchmark, rose 9.1% over the same period to the end of July 2016.

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