Threadneedle opens in Malaysia, eyes Islamic funds


KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Britain's fourth largestretail fund manager, Threadneedle Investments, plans to offer arange of sharia compliant funds in Malaysia, as the Islamic fundsector gradually revives after years of stagnant growth.

Threadneedle, which manages $126.6 billion in assets, hasappointed a Malaysia-based team that will be supported by itsSingapore and London offices, the company said in a statement.

The last few years have been difficult for Islamic funds asa whole, with Western firms pulling out as they were hurt by theglobal financial crisis and as slumping equity markets reducedinvestor interest. In total, 88 Islamic funds have beenliquidated globally in the last two years.

Malaysia has fared better even though the number of new fundlaunches has slowed in recent years, but Islamic wholesale fundshave bucked the trend with 13 launches last year.

Threadneedle, owned by U.S. Ameriprise Financial,will target institutional investors such as pension funds,insurance companies, and government-linked entities.

"With the presence of these new capabilities, we aim to makeThreadneedle a centre of excellence for Islamic finance inMalaysia," said Raymundo Yu, the firm's Asia Pacific chairman.

"This is an important strategic milestone for Threadneedleand further demonstrates our commitment to building a trulyclient-focused business for investors across Asia."

Total Islamic assets under management in Malaysia reached79.6 billion ringgit ($24.9 billion) in 2012, from 64.2 billionringgit a year earlier, a 24 percent increase.

Islamic fund managers screen their portfolios according toreligious guidelines such as bans on tobacco, alcohol andgambling, in much the same way as socially responsible funds.

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