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Legg Mason adds to Asian crowd

LEGG MASON INVESTMENTS

Asia Pacific Fund

Type:
Oeic

Aim:
Growth by investing in companies in the Asia Pacific region
excluding Japan

Minimum investment:
Lump sum £3,000,
monthly £50

Investment split:
Financials 22.47%, industrials 19.67%, Information technology 18.82%, materials 13.88%, consumer discretionary 6.26% telecoms services 4.7%, healthcare 4.58%, energy 2.11%consumer staples 0.99%, utilities 0.74%, cash 5.78%

Isa link:
Yes

Pep transfers:
Yes

Charges:
Initial 4.25%,
annual 1.5%

Commission:
Initial 3%,
renewal 0.5%

Tel:020 7070 7400

The Legg Mason Asia Pacific fund is an Oeic that invests in companies based in the Asia Pacific region, excluding Japan. It will be managed by Batterymarch Financial Management, a Boston-based subsidiary of Legg Mason which has managed emerging markets portfolios since 1987.

Courts Independent Financial Management partner David Wingar is not aware of Batterymarch, but he is aware of Legg Mason. He says: “Having had clients invested in the old Johnson Fry Slater growth fund, which was taken over by Legg Mason and became the Legg Mason unit opportunities fund, no literature was ever forthcoming from Legg Mason as why it was performing so poorly with this fund. The fund is currently sitting at 259 out of 320 funds over a 12-month period, and I cannot say that I am enamoured to Legg Mason&#39s philosophy as an investment house.”

Wingar regards sees Legg Mason Asia Pacific as just another Asia Pacific fund to add to the Far East excluding Japan sector, which already has 70 unit trusts and Oeics on offer. He says: “As a general practitioner IFA, there is nothing I dislike about the product. I just see it entering an already crowded and competitive marketplace.”

In Wingar&#39s view, the Legg Mason fund will have to compete with the top quartile funds in the Far Eastern excluding Japan sector, which he says would amount to just under 20 funds. He concludes: “To launch any fund today into an already crowded market is a bold move but it has two classes of share &#45 one which is retail and one which is institutional. Perhaps the class B institutional share starting at £500,000 will be attractive to large pension funds.”

BROKER RATINGS:

Suitability to Market: Average
Investment Strategy: Average
Charges: Average
Adviser Remuneration: Average

Overall 5/10

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