* India new focus market for AGI-Faber
* Says foray into Indian markets late, but well-timed
By Raji Menon
LONDON, March 2 The funds arm of German insurer
Allianz (ALVG.DE), expects its Indian joint venture to start
operations by year-end, and to score an advantage over rivals
who were quicker to enter the much-touted market, its CEO said.
Allianz Global Investors (AGI) chief executive Joachim Faber
said the venture with the financial services arm of the Indian
Bajaj Group (BJFS.BO) is currently in the process of obtaining
"India is our new focus market. We are already in China,
Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore -- so India is the next
one," he told Reuters.
"We should be up and running towards the end of the year."
Faber conceded AGI was playing catch-up in India with peers
like JPMorgan (JPM.N), State Street Global Advisors (STT.N) and
the fund business of France's Axa (AXAF.PA) but said the delay
had allowed it to avoid a costly response to new regulatory
rules imposed by the Indian government.
Last year, the country's stock market regulator said it
would abolish front-end or entry fees charged by mutual funds in
a move aimed at cutting costs for investors and discouraging
aggressive selling. [ID:nBOM512755]
"We were perhaps a little late in getting into the Indian
market, but this has not been bad for us. Those who came in
strong in the last five years are suffering losses because of
some of these (regulatory) changes. So this is a very good time
to get into the market," he said.
Faber also said that while the fund management industry was
likely to see increased consolidation, AGI itself would continue
to be opportunistic rather than aggressive in seeking
"We are really looking at generic growth. If the right
opportunity comes along, we are not completely averse to it, but
we are not actively seeking acquisitions," he said.
Speaking to Reuters on Monday, AGI chief operating officer
Marna Whittington noted that alternative investments like hedge
funds were one area where AGI was considered to be lacking
exposure and where any acquisition interest might fall.
AGI, which is one of the world's top five fund managers with
assets under management of over one trillion euros, has reported
a 51 percent rise in operating profits to 1.3 billion euros in
2009. It operates a multi-boutique structure which includes
fixed income specialist PIMCO, equity specialist RCM and other
semi-autonomous divisions like Nicholas Applegate.
(Additional reporting by Joel Dimmock; editing by Elaine