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Asset manager roundup: Allianz GI preps institutional trade finance fund

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HSBC and Allianz Global Investors (Allianz GI) have partnered to launch a fund that would give institutional investors access to the trade finance market. 

In a statement, the two organisations said the Allianz Working Capital Fund would buy and offer to clients notes into which trade finance assets originated by HSBC had been wrapped.

The assets could include traditional products such as trade loans or structured solutions like supply chain finance, with the initial focus to be on using European corporate trade finance assets before including other markets. 

Deborah Zurkow, global head of alternatives at Allianz GI, said: “Trade finance is a rapidly evolving opportunity for institutional investors. [This] launch helps unlock a whole new asset class for our institutional clients, providing unique, short-dated, uncorrelated cash flows.”

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According to the statement, banks collectively provide almost $10trn (€9trn) of trade finance to importing and exporting companies annually, with the secondary market for these assets estimated at around $300bn, and mainly comprising bilateral trading between banks.

Trade finance contracts were not standardised and therefore could be hard for investors to price, it said. 

Surath Sengupta, global head of trade portfolio management and distribution at HSBC, said: “We’re aiming for nothing less than a major reform of the trade finance market that will benefit exporters, importers and investors keen to buy into real economy transactions.

“Given that global demand for trade finance already outstrips supply by about $1.5trn a year, we see huge potential for a thriving secondary market to stimulate trade in goods and services – the lifeblood of the global economy.”

APG to close gender pay gap

APG, the €500bn Dutch asset manager and pensions provider, has announced a plan to close the pay gap between its male and female staff.

It said a survey had shown that women received 2.2% less in salary on average than their male colleagues.

To address this, APG said it would raise the remuneration of more than 125 female employees who received less, despite working in similar positions and having similar experience and years of service.

According to the company, the pay increase would be achieved within its existing budget.

It added that, for the remaining female workers, there was no difference in pay with male colleagues in a comparable position.

APG employs approximately 3,000 staff, 960 of whom are women.

Soros buys into GAM

Renowned investor George Soros has acquired a 3% stake in GAM, the Swiss asset management firm that came under pressure last year after a manager was suspended.

According to a Swiss stock exchange statement, the stake is held by SFM UK Management, a subsidiary of Soros Fund Management, which Soros chairs. 

In July 2018 GAM suspended Tim Haywood, lead manager of its absolute return and unconstrained fixed income funds, which led to a wave of investor redemptions. It is still in the process of liquidating the funds, although GAM has paid out roughly 90% of the assets in the affected funds as of 1 May.

In February the listed Swiss asset manager reported assets under management of CHF56.1bn (€49.9bn) as at year-end 2018, down from CHF84.4bn a year before, with a reduction of CHF11bn related to the unconstrained/absolute return bond funds.

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