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March 27 (Reuters) - (The following statement was released by the rating agency)
Fitch Ratings has assigned 'Strong' Fund Quality Ratings to the following three funds managed by State Street Global Advisors (SSgA, NR):
SSgA Fundamental Equity Europe Spotlight Fund
SSgA Fundamental Equity Eurozone Spotlight Fund
SSgA Fundamental Equity Global Spotlight Fund
The 'Strong' rating reflects the disciplined investment process, the rigorous fundamental research driving stock selections and the well-resourced investment team, consistent across all three funds.
KEY RATING DRIVERS
The funds are sub-funds of the State Street Global Advisors Luxembourg SICAV. The global fund was launched in December 2012, the Europe fund in May 2013 and the eurozone fund in August 2013. Assets under management in each fund were (as of February 2014), respectively, EUR28m (Europe), EUR21m (eurozone) and EUR45m (global).
The investment process involves rigorous screening of the eligible investment universe based on value and quality metrics to identify companies for further research. Portfolio construction is equally rigorous based on an approximate equal weighting and strong sell discipline relative to other stocks recommended by the research team.
The proprietary stock research is of high quality, differentiated by its consistency of approach, notably in its common set of accounting assumptions and adjustments. Research outputs demonstrate a deep understanding of stocks covered and key performance drivers.
The investment team consists of 24 staff, based in Dublin. The research team of 19 analysts is highly experienced and benefits from a variety of complementary backgrounds. The funds' portfolio managers, Lance Graham (Europe), William Killeen (eurozone) and Brian Routledge (global), are highly experienced and ultimately responsible for the fund's performance.
SSgA's investment resources are extremely strong, including global trade execution teams (11 traders in EMEA), an investment risk team of 16 and a dedicated direct implementation (portfolio compliance monitoring) team based in Dublin.
The funds, and comparable mandate reviewed by Fitch, have performed in-line with the funds' stated investment style over a relatively short period in the case of the funds which were launched in 2012-2013. The mandates however have a considerably longer track-record, delivering particularly strong performance in 2012 compared both to peers, the funds' indices and to relevant value indices.
SSgA, a subsidiary of State Street Corporation (A+/Positive/F1+), is a global asset manager with USD2.3trn in assets under management as of end-2013, including EUR6.5bn in fundamental equities. The operational and IT environment is built around standard third-party systems, providing well controlled and efficient workflows.
The rating may be sensitive to material changes in the investment or operational processes or resources dedicated to the fund. A material adverse deviation from Fitch's guidelines for any key rating driver could result in a downgrade of the rating. For example, this may be manifested in significant structural deterioration in the fund's performance relative to its benchmark and peers, an excessive risk deviation or style drift.
Fitch's Fund Quality Ratings combine Fitch's experience in qualitative fund analysis with rankings and performance data from Lipper, a Thomson Reuters company. Fitch's Fund Quality Ratings offer an independent, forward-looking assessment of a fund's key performance and risk attributes and consistency of longer-term returns, relative to peer group or benchmarks. The ratings focus on the fund manager's investment process, key fund performance drivers, risk management, and the quality of the fund's operational infrastructure.
For more information, please see www.fundmanagement.fitchratings.com
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