NETHERLANDS- Robeco has signed an agreement with a private equity partner in China and is on the hunt for a listed equity partner in a bid to increase its emerging market presence, chief executive George Möller says.
Möller said: "We want to invest in areas where we already have scale."
He declined to name the Chinese partner but said the new joint venture will offer a private equity fund of funds that invests in clean tech.
The new offering will parallel the firm's existing US$800m clean tech fund of funds which is currently managed out of Rotterdam. The fund targets investments in the US, Europe and the East.
He said the firm is also looking to partner with a public equity firm in China, but that officials at Robeco have not had extensive discussions with potential firms yet.
Möller said Robeco has been focusing its energies on growing its emerging markets operations. The firm has €111bn (US$145.5bn) in assets under management, with €7.5bn in emerging markets.
He said: "Some of these will be the biggest markets in the world…(and) we'd like to be there in the beginning."
He added: "We're making a strategic bet. We don't want to be sitting dry in the Netherlands."
Robeco has traditionally added strategies to its roster through acquisitions. In 2007, the firm partnered with Canara Bank of India and formed Canara India. The firm's fastest growing business is Harbor Capital Advisors in the US which manages Harbor Funds, mutual funds for retail clients that are managed by institutional money managers.
Outside emerging markets, Möller said the firm is also looking to grow its European equity capabilities. Robeco has two existing quantitative European equity product but is looking to partner with a qualitative manager to diversify its offerings.
On the alternatives side, Möller is keeping an eye out for potential fund of hedge funds acquisitions in the US and London. The firm already has a hedge funds presence in the US with fund of funds firm Robeco Sage.
Möller is looking to expand his hedge fund business at a time when investors have become leery of the strategy.
He said: "There's a lot of skepticism right now about whether the fund of funds model will continue."
Robeco Sage posted negative returns of about 20% in 2008, but avoided pitfalls that scared investors away from funds of funds, particularly Bernard Madoff's ponzi scheme. He predicted going forward there would be fewer players in the market, and those remaining will be at an advantage.
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