Legg Mason is working to expand its presence in Mexico as the US asset manager is also moving to boost its services and product offering across Latin America.
The $767 billion investment house is targeting Mexican pension funds on the back of a regulatory update that allowed the Afores to invest in international mutual funds for the first time, Legg Mason head of Americas international Lars Jensen told Citywire Americas.
Before the rule change, the Afores used mandates and ETFs to access foreign markets.
‘I’ve had a lot of conversations with the Afores about that [change],’ Jensen said. ‘They’ve actually reached out to me to ask me about mutual funds since they don’t have a lot experience with mutual funds in general.’
While Legg Mason hasn’t singled out specific funds to offer the Afores, Jensen said the pension funds might show interest in Asian strategies.
Legg Mason is also looking to boost its range of ETFs available in Mexico, though it has yet to decide what vehicles to add, said Jensen, who is based in Miami.
Last year, the US manager listed its first five ETFs on Mexico’s Sistema Internacional de Cotizaciones, a special section of the local stock exchange that lets financial institutions trade foreign securities in Mexico. The five ETFs available at the moment cover US, international, infrastructure and emerging market strategies, Jensen added.
While Jensen ultimately oversees the growth efforts in Mexico, Miami-based institutional business development director Dolores Ayarra also covers clients.
Last year, Legg Mason got the permits to open an office in Mexico, but has no official base yet, Jensen said. The firm plans to appoint local staff as its business in that country continues to grow.
In other Latin American plans, Legg Mason is weighing an expansion of its feeder fund range in Brazil, which at the moment features seven vehicles.
Jensen said the firm was considering launching a feeder for the Legg Mason Martin Currie Global Emerging Market A USD Acc run by Citywire AA-rated manager Kim Catechis.
‘It’s [because of] demand and the ESG approach that Martin Currie employs in that portfolio, ’ Jensen said. ‘Performance [in emerging markets] has also been strong.’
Turning to Colombia, the firm appointed Miami-based Ayarra to cover the market after getting authorization to open an office in that country in September.
Based in Baltimore, Legg Mason has had an on-the-ground presence in Latin America since 2006, when its opened its Chile office. It also has an outpost in Brazil.