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Mon 16 Jul 2007 11:47 PM

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Prudential to launch India, sharia funds

Asia fund arm hopes to raise $150 mn each from sharia and India-Asia funds, to launch this year.

Prudential Plc's Asia fund arm plans to launch at least two new equity products this year, including sharia and India-Asia funds it hopes will raise at least $150 million each, Prudential executives said on Monday.

The Shari'a Asian Equity Fund would be offered to retail investors in Malaysia, with a mirror version domiciled in Dubai for sale to Gulf investors, said Choy Peng Wah, regional head of sales and distribution for the fund arm in Asia.

"We're targeting to raise maybe 200 million ringgit ($58 million)," Choy told Reuters.

"In the Middle East, it's anybody's guess. It's a new market for us. But we're hopeful to raise about $100 million."

He said Prudential's India-Asia Equity Fund, which will invest in Indian and non-Japanese Asian equities, is expected to raise the full $150 million quota that has been set by regulators.

Prudential's Asian fund operations had 29.2 billion pounds ($59.42 billion) in assets under management at the end of last year, making it one of the region's largest asset management firms.

It competes in the retail space with international fund houses including closely held Fidelity, ING, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Schroders and Allianz.

Prudential's other fund launch plans for the remainder of 2007 include the introduction of its existing Asia Pacific Infrastructure Fund into new markets. The fund raised $450 million after it was launched in mid-May in Taiwan.

Choy, a former chief executive of Deutsche Bank's Asian asset management unit, said Prudential was keen to begin selling the fund into Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.

In the alternative space, Prudential is also looking at launching a structured sharia product in mainly Muslim Malaysia, a second version of its closed-end Vietnam Segregated Portfolio, and real estate product offering exposure to both listed and unlisted property. ($1=3.445 ringgit) ($1=.4914 pound)

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