Manulife Investment Management is set to offer private market capabilities to European investors after its Irish entity was authorised under the EU’s Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive.

The announcement of the licence comes shortly after the asset manager revealed it had hired Christoph Schumacher from Credit Suisse to spearhead its expansion into private real assets.

The authorisation as an Alternative Investment Fund Manager enables the passporting and sale of private market funds to professional investors across the European Economic Area.

“Achieving this license is a critical milestone to further extend the reach of our global private markets business and is a strategic opportunity for European investors seeking access to the diversification and the potential benefits of private asset exposures,” said Paul Lorentz, president and CEO of Manulife Investment Management.

The asset manager said its European private markets offering would initially focus on Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. Manulife Investment Management has staff in Copenhagen, Dublin, London, and Zurich.

“We are seeing an increased demand for private assets due to the continued low yield environment and we are focused on meeting the needs of investors who may want to take advantage of our decades of experience managing illiquid assets,” said Stephen Blewitt, global head of private markets.

The asset manager has more than €98bn in private markets assets, spanning private equity, private credit and real assets. The vast majority of this is managed on behalf of its insurer’s general account.

Blewitt told IPE Real Assets that over the past decade the insurer’s investment arm “decided to more actively pursue managing private assets for external clients”.

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