Mizuho China fund to bank on new leaders

by Kana Nishizawa

Bloomberg

Mizuho Asset Management Co. is opening a China fund, betting new leaders in the world’s No. 2 economy will boost growth and quell the Senkaku territorial dispute that has prompted other banks to cancel planned funds.

The MHAM China Growth Focus Fund, which starts Nov. 30, will focus on industries that would benefit from railway, health care and financial reforms by Beijing, said fund manager Masahiko Ejiri.

Possible target stocks include Citic Securities Co., Sinopharm Group Co. and other pharmaceutical firms, according to Ejiri. Consumer and Internet companies, including Tencent Holdings Ltd. and U.S.-listed Baidu Inc., are also candidates, he added.

Mizuho Asset Management, a unit of Japan’s third-biggest lender, is bucking a trend that has seen domestic companies such as United Investments Co., Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co. and SBI Asset Management Co. cancel China funds as the clash over the Japan-controlled Senkaku islets has soured bilateral relations.

“Fund performance isn’t really impacted by the tension between Japan and China,” Ejiri said. “Our concern is whether we can raise money because of Japanese investor sentiment toward China. When demand for A-share funds comes back, there won’t be many competitors providing such an opportunity to investors.”

Communist Party delegates are meeting in Beijing over several days to choose a fifth generation of leaders since it seized power in 1949.

China’s new leaders are poised to inherit the weakest economic expansion since 1999, with growth of 7.7 percent projected this year, according to the median estimate of 45 analysts in a Bloomberg News survey.

Mizuho Asset Management’s fund will include Chinese companies listed on the mainland, Hong Kong and other venues, as well as exchange-traded funds denominated in yuan and Hong Kong dollars, Ejiri said. The unit oversees about $45 billion (about ¥3.6 trillion), including Hong Kong-listed equities.

Airlines and gold-related companies may also be added as a short-term strategy betting on global liquidity, Ejiri said.

Hong Kong’s market has rallied the past two months as money poured into the city following so-called quantitative easing by global central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan and their counterparts in Europe.

Ejiri manages other funds, including the MHAM Growing Asia Stock Fund, which has beaten 69 percent of its rivals so far this year, and MHAM Hokuto High Dividend Global Stock Open, which has outperformed 70 percent of its peers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Tensions between Asia’s two largest economies escalated in mid-September after Tokyo purchased and nationalized three of the Japan-controlled Senkaku islets in the East China Sea. Nationwide protests in China led to the destruction, vandalization and looting of Japanese stores, restaurants and car dealerships.

United Investments canceled its China A-share fund due to start Oct. 1 because the bitter clash exposed the risks of investing in the country, Chief Investment Officer Atsushi Inoue said.

Meanwhile, Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management scrapped its China Dividend Yield Equity Fund 2012-10 fund due to the “recent condition of the market and Japan-China relations,” said Yasuko Kawase of the company’s corporate strategy department. SBI Asset Management Co. also halted a yuan-denominated fund.

“China’s government will take a much more balanced approach toward Japan,” Ejiri said. “There are many more negatives than positives if China becomes more hostile. The government understands that. The new government will have a long-term view.”