Friday, 14 January 2011

Frontier markets are the place to be in 2011

Whilst most asset allocators are making cautious predictions for 2011, some are calling for increased allocation to those emerging markets left behind by the BRIC euphoria. In particular, new emerging markets, or frontier markets, are fast becoming an investment theme in their own right.

Frontier markets represent some 4% of global GDP, around $2.5 trillion when combined. These off benchmark emerging markets are typically nascent economies that are just starting on the process of industrialisation. According to Daniel Broby, Chief Investment Officer of Silk Invest, this means that they will enjoy above average growth for the next 5 – 15 years if they get their act together.

A number of frontier markets have either new or established stock exchanges and the investment universe is far larger than most imagine. Indeed, only last week saw the launch of a new stock exchange in Laos. Countries like Iraq, Lebanon and Zimbabwe have sustained their exchanges throughout a decade of troubles. Thanks to greater use of technology, global investors can get access to such markets and benefit from the mispriced risk.

Although the immediate opportunity is in the public markets; private equity, fixed income, and property all offer attractive returns. A number of new funds have been launched to capitalise on this theme including the Silk Road Frontier Fund, the BlackRock Frontiers investment trust and Schroder ISF Frontier Markets Equity.
The frontier markets are particularly attractive to long horizon institutional investors. That said, these are markets where stock picking and local presence is a pre-requisite. Investors should look to have an overweight exposure and not market time. Investment risks include illiquidity and political surprise, but the returns of a expected returns of a diversified portfolio far out way these in the long run.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Frontier markets webcast

IPE Webcast Series Presents: A Unique Opportunity in Frontier Markets (Silk Invest Limited)
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
14:00 UK Time, 9 am EST

Presentation by:
Zin Bekkali
Daniel Broby
Baldwin Berges
Brendan Maton

Register for this event.Frontier markets have shown remarkable resilience during the recent global economic downturn and have in line with their emerging markets peers sustained their long term convergence trend. African, Arab and Asian frontier countries are increasingly able to strengthen their competitive advantages and carve out a place in the global economy.

The case for frontier markets is however not well understood and many of these markets are selling today at significant valuations discounts in comparison with the rest of the world. This is evident across asset classes and can be showcased when looking at dividend yields which are typically twice the global average or interest rate spreads which are still pricing in a very high risk premium.

This paradox of above average growth and valuation discounts, represents a unique window of opportunity for investors to start looking at these markets. The capital markets in frontier markets are relatively young but are relevant for investors. Their combined market capitalization is bigger than many of the favourite emerging markets and the fixed income universe has reached critical size.

Silk Invest is built around the conviction that the world is turning upside down and that investors should add frontier markets to their portfolios. Silk Invest will host this webcast to share its views on the markets and showcase its approach to get access to the best investment opportunities.

The webcast will allow you to take a closer look at frontier markets and obtain a better understanding of the realities and the fundamental drivers of these fast-growing economies that are increasingly opening up to global investors.

During the webcast, Silk Invest will provide insights and perspectives on:

• The macro case for investing in frontier markets with a special focus on Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia
• The development of capital markets and accessibility of the frontier countries
• Investment opportunities in equities, fixed income and private equity
• The appropriate investment approach for frontier markets and how investors can capture the benefits of this high economic growth

Monday, 10 January 2011

Laos stock exchange goes live

Two stocks are listing on the new laos stock exhange that opened this year. Banque Pour Le Commerce Extereiur Lao, or BCEL, and, EDL-Generation Co both offer interesting exposure. More state-controlled businesses could be listed within a few years, and the market could end up with 10 or 15 companies listed.

When Laos is analysed by frontier funds like Silk Invest's "Silk Road Frontiers Fund", it is largely because of its potential as a major exporter of hydropower in an energy-hungry region. Thailand, Vietnam and China are growing power demand rapidly, and Laos, with its network of fast-flowing rivers, is viewed as a "hydropower play".

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Growing microfinance scandal

The Indian micorofinance scandal is starting to get more international press. In the last six monthe more than 70 people have committed suicide to escape payments or end the agonies their debt has triggered, according to the Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty, an Indian government agency that compiled the data on the microfinance-related deaths from police and press reports.