Eastspring’s chief executive Guy Strapp said Maisonneuve’s hire, announced earlier this week, was a “statement about our intent to be a serious player”.
He said: “She will be taking what has been a declining part of my role, which is managing the investment teams.”
Strapp added this would free up his time to review opportunities to expand: “I needed also someone to run investment due diligence in the case of team acquisitions.”
Singapore-based Eastspring, which specialises in value equities in Asian markets, has seen two “record” years for growth in assets managed, according to Strapp. These have come on the back of an Asian income fund that sold particularly well in Japan, as well as mandates from international arms of its insurance parent group.
Asian clients still account for 95% of its external money and Strapp wants to boost its international client base, as well as offer more varied investment funds to its core Asian clients. Eastspring has $ 1.8 billion under management for European investors following the launch of its London office three years ago.
Strapp said: “We have been successful by growing organically but it’s time to write some cheques.”
He is particularly interested in multi-asset managers: “We created a multi-asset team recently but it is a two-person team. Maybe there would be a way to complement this.”
Eastspring is also looking at the US, where Strapp sees a lot of “stress” thanks to changes in regulation and the rise of passive investing.
He is being realistic about the scope of his dealmaking, however: “I would love to find something like the Henderson-Janus deal but I don’t expect to be asking the board for a big cheque.”
More broadly, Strapp hopes his firm will benefit from a return by investors to the out-of-favour value style, which looks for underpriced companies, and to emerging markets, in the wake of 2016’s shock Brexit and Donald Trump results.