Standard Life beefs up in emerging market debt

Richard House, Kieran Curtis and Imran Ahmad

Edinburgh-based global fund manager Standard Life Investments (SLI) has launched a new emerging market debt fund — and has added to its team of five emerging market debt specialists by hiring Imran Ahmad from JP Morgan Asset Management.

SLI said it has launched an Emerging Market Debt (EMD) Unconstrained SICAV — an open-ended fund — with assets under management of $100 million “in order to accommodate demand from European investors for access to this increasingly popular asset class.”

The new fund will be co-managed by Richard House, SLI’s head of emerging market fixed income and Kieran Curtis, investment director – emerging markets.

SLI, which manages assets of about £270 billion, said the new Luxembourg-registered SICAV will complement its existing Emerging Market Debt, Emerging Market Local Currency Debt and Emerging Market Corporate Bond funds, all of which have outperformed their respective benchmarks since inception.

House said: “We firmly believe that there are long-term opportunities for investors in this increasingly popular asset class.

“By opting for an actively managed unconstrained solution such as this, investors can access the best opportunities that exist across the different subsets of the asset class within a single portfolio.

“While the fundamental backdrop is sound for most emerging market countries, it is important to recognise that this is not universally the case.

“The lack of an index constraint is designed to help avoid exposure to or to take short positions in countries which are experiencing macroeconomic challenges and where asset price performance is expected to be poor.”

SLI said the manager will have an opportunity set of more than 70 countries in which to invest, covering hard and local currency sovereign debt and hard currency corporate debt.

Meanwhile, SLI confirmed Imran Ahmad will join its emerging market debt team as an investment director.

Ahmad has 12 years of experience in the industry and joins the Edinburgh-based firm from JP Morgan Asset Management where, since January 2013, he held the role of currency portfolio manager.

Ahmad will be based in London and will have primary responsibility for emerging market currency overlay strategies across the entire EMD suite of funds.

House said: “Imran’s appointment reflects our commitment to, and belief in, the long term opportunities the EMD asset class has to offer.

“Imran’s skill set complements the team’s approach to managing EM fixed income portfolios, namely high conviction macro based investing.

“The team, which has over 77 years’ experience in the industry, works ‘hand-in-hand’ with the 40 strong fixed income and global emerging market equities teams, allowing us to seek out the best investment ideas and opportunities for our investors.”