Nomura launches 8 new funds

BOSTON - NOMURA Asset Management, Japan's largest money manager, has expanded its US. business by launching eight new Asia-focused stock mutual funds, betting Americans will invest more overseas, a senior Nomura executive said on Wednesday.

Nomura Asset's move comes as the US mutual funds industry is grappling with sharply lower assets and is slashing jobs to combat the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The unit of Nomura Holdings Inc hopes to raise 'a couple of billion dollars' over the next three to five years in the eight new funds and in a Japan Fund it started managing in November, Mr Shigeru Shinohara, president and CEO of Nomura Asset's US operations, said in an interview.

'On average, US investors are under-invested internationally. And as Asia is seen growing faster than the US in the long run, more and more people will be interested in having exposure to Asian markets,' Mr Shinohara said.

The size of the US funds market was also a draw, he added.

The US funds industry managed $9.4 trillion (S$14.04 trillion) in assets at the end of November, according to the Investment Company Institute, an industry trade body.

Assets were down from $12 trillion at the start of 2008, hurt by lower market values and fund outflows.

But Mr Shinohara said Nomura was taking a very long-term view of its business.

'Internally, we are saying this is the first year of a 50-year project,' he said.

Nomura's new funds include a China-focused fund, an India fund, an international fund and a global emerging-markets fund.

The firm is looking to hire six to eight marketing professionals for the new funds, the Nomura executive said.

Mr Shinohara acknowledged Nomura would have competition from major US fund companies, including Fidelity Investments and T. Rowe Price Group Inc , as well as boutique managers such as Matthews International Capital Management, that already offer Asia-focused funds in America.

'But so far, all the companies offering Asian or international products for US people are either American or European,' he said, adding this was the first time a major Asian company was offering international exposure to American retail investors.

Nomura Asset already manages assets of about $10 billion in institutional products and two closed-end funds it offers in the United States.

Globally, it managed about $220 billion as of Sept 30, Mr Shinohara said. -- THOMSON REUTERS

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