James Williams, Hedgeweek

Alceda partners with ECPI Group to launch new fund… private wealth allocators show appetite for alternative UCITS…

Alceda Fund Management SA announced this week that it had launched the ECPI MEGA TREND FUNDS-ECPI Sustainable Global Mega Trends in partnership with ECPI Group, a leading independent index solution and advisory provider.

The fund has been registered for institutional and retail investors in Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Luxembourg and for institutional investors in Italy. ECPI believes that by incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) analysis into the investment decision-making process it offers long-term value creation for both investors and society at large. 
 
Climate change, emerging markets, scarcity of resources and population dynamics are key areas of focus in the ESG analysis process.
 
ECPI and Alceda are collaborating with international investment firms in providing customised and tradeable funds based on the megatrend philosophy and each investment company’s approach. The addition of ECPI related funds will provide further portfolio diversification for the Alceda UCITS Platform in the domain of sustainable investments but also in specialized investment strategies.
 
Manuela Fröhlich, Managing Director and Head of Global Fund Sales of Alceda said: “We are pleased to be collaborating with ECPI in launching funds that match the risk and return characteristics of the well- established ECPI Global Megatrend Index while minimising transaction costs and active risk. We also believe this to be an opportunity for us to develop other international partnerships in the future based on the megatrend philosophy.”
 
Paolo Sardi, Managing Director of ECPI, Luxembourg, added: “The fund registrations follow the increasing recognition of the ECPI Global Megatrend fund as a reference for smart beta megatrend investing.”
 
Private wealth allocators favour UCITS, just one of several findings in the latest Deutsche Bank Markets Prime Finance Monthly Hedge Fund Trends report, reported FINalternatives this week. DB analysts also noted an appetite among private wealth allocators for alternative UCITS funds. Even though with approximately EUR150billion in total AuM these funds make up a tiny percentage of the overall EUR6.6trillion UCITS market, the report noted that “recent growth rates suggest that the gap will narrow in the coming years”.   
 
“Alternative UCITS have experienced a CAGR of 30 per cent since Q3 2008, while the overall UCITS market has grown 3 per cent over the same time period. In the past year we have seen considerable demand for the liquid alternative strategies from the private wealth allocators, specifically those in the UK and Switzerland,” analysts wrote in the report.
 
Dallas-headquartered Westwood Holdings Group, Inc. (NYSE: WHG), which provides investment management services to institutional investors, private wealth clients and financial intermediaries, has announced receipt of approximately USD160million as the final tranche of initial funding of Westwood Emerging Markets Fund. The fund is the first sub-fund of Westwood Investment Funds plc, its Irish-domiciled UCITS umbrella fund, which was authorized by the Central Bank of Ireland on 18 June 2013.
 
Patricia Perez-Coutts and her Toronto-based team at Westwood International Advisors Inc. (“Westwood International”) provide investment advice to the Westwood Emerging Markets Fund. The UCITS fund provides access for non-US investors to Westwood International’s approach to uncovering investment opportunities in global emerging markets.
 
“We launched our UCITS fund to respond to demand for our Emerging Markets strategy from U.K. pension plans of three blue-chip European companies,” said Brian Casey, Westwood’s President and CEO. “We are pleased to have launched this fund with significant scale from the outset, with initial funding from these three clients exceeding USD500 million. We look forward to launching additional UCITS funds in the future and expanding our client offerings beyond our traditional US markets.”
 
The investment process seeks to invest in sound companies that Westwood’s team believes are undervalued in the market. Key characteristics considered when evaluating investments include strong businesses with core franchise values, above average cash flow generation, and consistency of earnings growth. The Fund is currently available in GBP, Euro, USD and CAD share classes for institutional investors.
 
Finally, Frankfurt-based Universal Investments has teamed up with UK specialist fixed income manager Stratton Street to launch a fund designed to capitalize on the opening up of China’s capital market, reported Citywire Global. Stratton Street’s existing RMB strategy has built up a six-year track record. A UCITS-compliant version of the strategy launched this week. The Stratton Street UCITS Renminbi Bond fund will focus on investing in high quality investment grade Asian bonds, using currency hedges to gain renminbi exposure. Renminbi appreciation is a key focus for the fund as it is Stratton Street’s base assumption that the currency will double in value over the next decade.
 
Andrew Seaman will manage the fund. Commenting on his investment approach, Seaman said: “Index-based bond funds buy more from the most indebted. We buy from creditors, who can sustain their debts and pay us back.”
 
Seaman said that as bonds held within the portfolio are investment grade, and in many cases government or quasi-government, the credit risk of the fund is relatively low. 

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