PRUDENTIAL Unit Trusts Bhd plans to launch two new funds of about RM500mil in size this year, said chief executive officer Mark Toh Chin Hian.
We are in the midst of developing several products. One of our new funds is awaiting the Securities Commission's approval and we plan to introduce it in the first quarter. We also plan to launch another fund in the second half of this year, he said in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Speaking to reporters after the signing of an agreement on unit trust distribution and cash management facility between Prudential and OCBC Bank (M) Bhd, Toh said the new funds would be aimed at retail and corporate clients.
He said Prudential would tap the resources of its parent company, Prudential Group of Britain, in developing the products. The new funds may have a balanced portfolio of fixed income and equity. It will also have special features that will attract the interest of companies to invest in, he added.
According to Toh, unit trust funds managed by Prudential in Malaysia has grown to about RM441mil now from RM25mil when the company started its business in this country in 2001.
He said that despite the depressed stock market last year Prudential's unit trust funds had been performing well, noting that its PRUsmall-cap fund recorded 11.49% return last year, its PRUgrowth fund registered 13.12% return, PRUbalanced fund 8.74% and PRUbond fund 7.58%.
We have been able to outperform the KLSE because of the superior stock pick by our fund managers, he said.
Toh expects the first six months of this year to be a bit difficult for unit trust companies in view of the global economic and political uncertainty, particularly in the Middle East.
However, we believe the situation will be a lot clearer in the second half of this year. Therefore, there should be better performance (for unit trust firms) in the second half. We also expect the stock market to perform a lot better towards the end of this year, he said.
Toh also said that in an effort to reach a wider market Prudential planned to double its agency force to 300,000 by year's end. Our existing agents have also increased their efficiency and productivity. Therefore, we expect to see another spectacular growth in business this year, he added.
On the agreement with OCBC Bank, Toh said it would enable the latter to distribute Prudential's funds and, in turn, Prudential would benefit from OCBC Bank's online cash management services.
He said OCBC Bank was Prudential's eighth strategic partner to distribute its unit trusts. This year we plan to appoint five more such partners, two of which are foreign banks. We have almost finalised negotiations with them, he added.
OCBC Bank chief executive officer Datuk Albert Yeoh said Prudential would benefit from the bank's commercial presence and strength of 25 branches nationwide, adding that Prudential would be able to reduce its manual processing by using OCBC's cash management facility.