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Fund chief says time is right for growth in Asia

Asia is ending a period of consolidation and the time is right for a sustained period of growth, says Waverton Asia Pacific manager Alan Gibbs.

Between 1975 and 1990, Asia went through a sustained growth phase but the region’s markets have since been consolidating. Gibbs thinks many of the factors which drove growth have now returned, with those driving consolidation now receding.

Gibbs was speaking at the launch of his fund, to be managed by JO Hambro Investment Management. The fund is a high-conviction,s non-benchmarked product holding bet- ween 30 and 40 stocks, with aggressive use of cash positions to protect capital.

Gibbs says the rise of cheap Chinese manufacturing has driven competition across Asia. Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan have been competing for direct foreign investment but, as a result, equities have rem-ained under-valued while the countries have been accumulating cash.

Gibbs says: “From an inves-tor’s point of view, Asia is awash with cash. This is in great contrast to the conditions we are seeing both in Europe and the US, where gearing levels are high, governments are heav-ily indebted and consumers have high levels of mortgage and credit card debt.”

Baronworth director Colin Jackson says: “The 25,000 minimum investment on this fund reflects that it is designed to appeal to the more sophisticated investor and Asia is alw-ays perceived as a higher-risk investment. Having said that, there is a good deal of optim-ism surrounding the region.”

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