First State lines up Williamson for new EM bond fund
GLOBAL - First State Investments has launched an emerging markets bond fund that will be managed by industry veteran Helene Williamson.
Williamson boasts more than 30 years' experience in EM debt. She joined from F&C, where she was a fund manager for 16 years.
The asset manager said Williamson and her newly established team would focus on "political and economic" analysis of specific countries, aiming to outperform the JPMorgan EMBI Global Diversified index on a risk-adjusted basis.
For the most part, the fund will invest in hard-currency debt securities issued or guaranteed by governments, financial institutions or companies in emerging markets.
It will comprise 50-120 holdings, primarily in US dollar-denominated sovereign and quasi-sovereign debt instruments.
Williamson said now was an especially good time to invest in EM debt, given the low government bond yields in the US and the euro-zone.
"Many [emerging market] bonds offer attractive value, as credit spreads have widened substantially, and emerging market currencies have cheapened up due to contagion from the crisis engulfing the peripheral countries of Europe," she said.
First State said it plans to offer an offshore version of the fund - currently an ICVC available to European investors - in the near future.
Williamson and her team will be based in London, supported by bond and credit specialists in Asia and Australia.