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Alternatives to the ‘soft-closed’ GAM Star China fund

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11/03/2014
Top performing GAM Star China Equity fund is set to be "soft-closed" or shut to new investors after a jump in size in recent months.

The fund run by Michael Lai is currently £1.5bn ($2.5bn) in size and has beaten all but two of its competitors in the IMA China/Greater China sector over the three years to 28 February.

Over that time it has returned 16.4%, according to Morningstar, versus an average loss of 0.4%.

The group said: “The fund has seen significant growth in recent months, reflecting strong outperformance and increasing interest from clients. Controlling the future asset growth of the fund will ensure it can continue to pursue an active and unconstrained investment approach.”

This is the second big China-only fund to soft close in recent years. The popular First State Greater China fund was shut to new money in 2012 to protect existing investors.

{Read why funds soft close here}

For investors looking for alternative China funds, Adrian Lowcock, senior investment manager at Hargreaves Lansdown, recommends the £180m Jupiter China fund, run by Philip Ehrmann.

“This fund has a mid and small cap bias, which is where you want to be to make money in China,” Lowcock said.

“Focusing on small and mid caps brings added risk but investors who opt for a country-specific fund should really have a higher risk profile,” he added.

Juliet Schooling Latter, head of research at Chelsea Financial Services, likes the Invesco Perpetual Hong Kong & China fund.

“The manager has lots of experience, is based out in the region, and tends to take a conservative approach which is good in a volatile market,” she said.

More cautious investors who still want exposure to China might want to opt for a fund with a broader remit.

Jason Hollands of adviser firm Bestinvest recommends the Asian Total Return Investment Company, an investment trust.

“It is managed by Robin Parbrook and Lee King Fuei at Schroders who have successfully managed a similar offshore open-ended strategy which is now soft closed. The approach uses derivative positions to manage downside risk. Although the mandate is region-wide, around half is invested in China and Hong Kong,” he said.

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