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First State picks path to Latin America

First State Investments has brought out a Latin America fund with the same bottom-up stock-picking approach as its Asia Pacific and global emerging market ranges.

The fund focuses on quality companies with strong growth potential in regions such as Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Mexico and Peru. It is likely to have a consumer-related bias and will take advantage of attractive valuations.

Emerging markets specialists Jonathan Asante and Millar Mathieson will manage the fund, with deputy head of the global emerging markets team Alan Nesbit as deputy fund manager.

Asante runs First State’s global emerging market leaders fund. He joined First State’s global emerging markets team in November 2004 after nine years at Framlington and started his investment career as an assistant researcher at the NatWest Group.

Mathieson joined the team in May 2001 and is deputy manager for the Asia Pacific sustainability fund. Nesbit has been with the company for nine years and has specialised in Latin Americaan markets since 1990.

Latin American markets were generally in good shape going into the global slowdown. They have not been immune to the challenging conditions facing global markets, but domestic growth potential and the continuing demand for commodities may put some regions in a strong position going forward.

Chile’s stockmarket rose as its central bank recently made bigger than expected interest rate cuts which helped the stocks delivered a larger interest-rate cut than had been expected, and Brazilian stocks gained following an upgrade of the market. However, growth in Mexico could be lower than expected this year due to falling demand in the US for Mexican exports and the outbreak of swine flu.

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