Aberdeen’s Young adds Tencent, keeps China bets during selloff

  • Markets
  • Tuesday, 17 Aug 2021

VETERAN fund manager Hugh Young said his firm bought the dip in Tencent Holdings Ltd. and kept most of its other big-tech holdings in China largely unchanged during the recent selloff on expectations these stocks will emerge as winners despite policy crackdowns.

While keen on Chinese tech, Aberdeen Standard Investments, which oversees about $639 billion in assets globally, is avoiding the education sector, according to the Singapore-based chairman of its Asia unit. In fact, bellwethers in most industries offer upside opportunities, including property developer China Vanke Co., said Young, who has been with Aberdeen for three decades.

"I don’t think anything strategic has changed” in China and regulations will benefit the responsible players, he said in a video interview. "We have topped up with Tencent,” adding to what already was a large holding in the sector.

Tencent shares fell as much 3% on Tuesday to the lowest since Aug. 6 while the Hang Seng Tech Index declined as much as 1.8% to its lowest since July 28. Both have dropped more than 20% this year due to China’s sweeping overhaul of technology giants.

Young’s optimism remains despite Chinese officials saying that more regulation is coming to the world’s second-largest economy over the next five years. About $1 trillion of value was wiped out from China shares listed on the mainland, Hong Kong and U.S. last month amid clampdowns on sectors ranging from education to technology.

His views contrasts with that of other global asset managers, including Ark Investment Management’s Cathie Wood, who has said she has been selling China equities and warned that valuations will probably "remain down.” Some sovereign wealth funds and analysts also share Young’s confidence on China.

"China is just trying to make everything fairer for its citizens,” Young said. "Does that put us off investing in China? ‘No,’” he said, noting that regulatory crackdowns also "happened in other economies when things boom.”

New regulations may keep coming, but leaders of the world’s second-largest economy are not looking to destroy sectors, and that means top companies will benefit from such moves, Young said, pointing to the housing market, where more measures are likely, but that hasn’t prompted Aberdeen to unload its shares in top developers.

China will probably "correct regulatory policies for the sector’s good,” he said. That means companies such as China Vanke, in which his firm owns shares, "will ultimately be net beneficiaries,” said Young.

"Huge opportunities” will come with a broadening of the economy and "responsible growth,” Young said. - Bloomberg

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