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Martin Currie gets hot on China trail

Martin Currie Investments has expanded its Luxemburg-based Sicav range with the introduction of four new funds, including the Martin Currie GF greater China fund.

The GF greater China fund will be managed by Chris Ruffle and is a mirror of Martin Currie&#39s US-registered China fund inc. Ruffle has 15 years&#39 investment experience and is based in Shanghai. A team of five investment managers and research analysts will assist him.

All the members of the China investment team, including Ruffle, speak Mandarin. Fluency in the native language is important as managers of Chinese companies may not speak English and important facts could be lost in translation.

Ruffle and his team operate a high conviction style, with no place in the portfolio for filler stocks chosen just because they are listed on the benchmark index.

Stocks will be thoroughly screened and researched &#45 a process that includes the investment team making company visits. Ruffle and his team will not take company accounts at face value because these can be opaque. They will also need to know the stock inside out before holding it in the portfolio, which will contain approximately 40 stocks.

The Chinese market has rallied recently as a result of moves towards a recovery in the US and demand from other countries for Chinese goods. Corporate earnings have improved and the under-researched nature of Chinese stocks may provide ample investment opportunities.

However, this fund carries higher than average risks and is likely to be of interest only to high-net-worth investors who have already invested in mainstream areas such as the UK.

According to Standard & Poor&#39s the Martin Currie IF Asian Pacific fund is ranked 21 out of 60 funds based on £1,000 invested on a bid-to-bid basis with net income reinvested over three years to September 15, 2003.

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