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How Ashmore became part of the EM establishment

The London-based asset management firm has taken the lead in persuading institutional investors worldwide, including central banks and pension funds, to go for long-term investment in emerging market assets. Felix Salmon reports.

EMERGING MARKET INVESTMENT is evolving rapidly as an asset class, and one London firm – Ashmore Investment Management – has managed to position itself at the forefront of change.

Ashmore is no giant of the buy side: with barely more than $20 billion in assets under management, it’s little more than a rounding error when compared with trillion-dollar investors like Fidelity or Barclays. But that $20 billion is invested exclusively in emerging markets, making Ashmore the second-biggest player in the asset class, after Pimco. And if you subtract Pimco’s tactical allocations and look only at the money that it has mandated to emerging markets, the two are neck and neck: Ashmore has slightly more in total emerging market mandates; Pimco still has a couple of billion more in fixed-income mandates.

Ashmore, however, is taking the lead in selling the story of the asset class to institutional investors worldwide, especially after the departure from Pimco of high-profile fund manager Mohamed El-Erian. And no one does that better than Ashmore’s co-founder and head of research, Jerome Booth.

The meat of Booth’s pitch is simple: he points to $4.3 trillion in tradeable debt in emerging markets, up by $1 trillion in just one year.

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