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Aberdeen adding to Malaysian holdings, says selloff was overdone

Monday, November 23, 2015 - 17:13
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Aberdeen Asset Management Plc says it's adding to holdings of Malaysia's bonds and currency as a selloff in Asia's worst-performing emerging market was overdone.

[HONG KONG] Aberdeen Asset Management Plc says it's adding to holdings of Malaysia's bonds and currency as a selloff in Asia's worst-performing emerging market was overdone.

In recent months, Aberdeen has been moving from being underweight Malaysia, said Kenneth Akintewe, a Singapore-based senior investment manager at the company, which oversees US$483 billion. The ringgit has lost 19 per cent this year, almost twice as much as the region's second-biggest decliner, amid a slump in crude prices that harmed the net oil exporter and a political scandal involving Prime Minister Najib Razak.

"It was like everything was lined up against the ringgit," Akintewe said in a phone interview on Monday. "By the end of this year, we should at least be neutral if not actually going overweight." Aberdeen isn't alone in warming to Malaysia, with PineBridge Investments and Vanguard Group saying last month that some Malaysian debt may have been oversold. Foreign funds were net buyers of the nation's bonds in October for the first time in four months, while the ringgit has rallied 3.7 per cent since plunging to a record low in late September.

Foreign ownership of the nation's government and corporate notes climbed 3.8 per cent to 209.7 billion ringgit (S$70 billion) in October, the central bank said this month. The economyexpanded 4.7 per cent last quarter from a year earlier and exports increased in each of the four months through September.

Malaysia is "a very good indicator" of Aberdeen's view on Asian emerging markets as it's the region's worst performer, said Akintewe. The asset manager is looking for "weak periods" to increase its holdings in Indonesia's currency and bonds, he said.

Opposition lawmakers and some in Prime Minister Najib's own party have questioned how hundreds of millions of dollars in political donations ended up in the premier's private accounts before a general election in 2013. Najib will respond to questions from lawmakers on Dec 3 before parliament takes a break, a press officer in the Prime Minister's department said this month.

The political situation in Malaysia remains a risk, Aberdeen's Akintewe said.

"Investors may be a bit more desensitized by the political risk but it's still in the background."

BLOOMBERG