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Tokyo-based manager Sparx Group has signed a distribution agreement with Chilean firm PICTON, marking the Japanese company’s first foray into Latin America.

The duo will target Chilean AFPs in the first stage of the project with hopes of later moving into the funds of funds and wealth management spaces, as well as into Peru and Colombia, said Sparx Group vice president of global business development Noah Bonomi.

Currently, the partners are marketing the Sparx Japan Fund, an all-cap Ucits that as of March 31 held 29 Japanese stocks.

Managed by Citywire AA-rated Masakazu Takeda, the $1.2 billion fund returned 47.51% in the three years ended April 30, while key Japanese index Topix TR rose 30.02%.

With one-third of the group’s $11 billion under management representing alternative assets, Bonomi said he’s also open to later bringing non-traditional strategies. He added that Sparx became a pioneer in the domestic long/short space in Japan with a fund launch in 1997.

Sparx, which has expanded into the rest of Asia in the past decade, also offers a raft of funds investing in countries such as Korea.

Commenting on the partnership, a PICTON spokesperson said: ‘We’re proud to bring Sparx as a Japan investment option for Latin American institutional clients. We see that the experience, the critical and long-term focus has generated constant superior returns for Sparx clients.’

Current picture

Between January 1 and March 31, Chilean pension funds withdrew a net $935.7 million from Japanese equities, reducing their position to $7 billion, according to a report by Chilean firm HMC Capital.

That doesn’t seem to worry Bonomi, who said that while Japan might not be a favorite now next year be a different story.

‘If we don’t raise assets this year there’s next year and the year after that. I mean, and there’s no need to rush, really,’ he said.

‘Many of the investors in the fund are very long term,’ he added. ‘We have public pensions. We have insurance companies. We have sovereign wealth funds. That’s the type of money we want to attract, and we don’t necessarily need the money now. We just need them to understand us and stay with us when they do.’