ASK Investment Managers marks final close of category III AIF

ASK Investment Managers Ltd on Tuesday said it has marked the final close of its category III alternative investment fund (AIF) at over Rs 1,200 crore (around $153 million), a top executive told VCCircle.  

“The ‘ASK Golden Decade Fund’ will have a four-year tenure without a lock-in period. It aims to attract investments from HNIs and UHNIs (ultra-high net worth individuals) for long-term and consistent wealth creation,” said Prateek Agrawal, business head and chief investment officer, ASK Investment Managers.

An alternative investment fund comprises of pooled investment funds which invest in venture capital, private equity, hedge funds and managed futures. A category III AIF aims at short-term returns by employing complex trading strategies.    

ASK’s category III alternative investment fund – which will focus on spaces like private banks, specialty chemicals, consumer sector - claims to have secured a milestone of 1,000 subscribers, with maximum subscriptions from Mumbai followed by Delhi and NCR.

“In the consumer staples space, steep inflation in raw material prices is likely to impact operating performance in H1FY23. Most of the companies are taking price hikes in calibrated fashion but there will be a lag effect between commodity price movement and commensurate price hikes,” Agrawal said. 

He added that consumer companies in the discretionary space are likely to deliver strong earnings growth in the near to medium term, led by the shift to organized from unorganized, distribution expansion and premiumization.

“We believe margin pressure is temporary and not structural. Leading consumer companies have adequate pricing power to offset the commodity pressure in due course and, therefore, we expect healthy earnings growth from medium to long-term perspective. We expect improved operating performance H2FY23 onwards,” Agrawal said. 

“For private banks and better-rated NBFCs, we expect lower slippages and a pick-up in credit growth, which should aid operating performance in FY23. Higher interest rates should aid net interest margin for high CASA banks.”  

When asked about the allocation from the ASK Golden Decade Fund to various sectors, Agrawal said the diversification will be led by consumer-oriented companies followed by financial services. 

“The fund’s 30% portfolio is invested in consumption-oriented businesses, 25% in banking and financial services, 15-20% in specialty chemicals/APIs/ CRAMs, 13% in technology and telecom and 10-12% in manufacturing.”  

Minimum ticket size as per regulations by Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) for investments in Category III AIFs is Rs 1 crore. Agrawal said ASK is targeting higher ticket sizes as well.

“The Golden Decade Fund has received a positive response and we continue to receive enquiries. Our strong research with disciplined investing during all market conditions and adaptation of digital technologies for a seamless, paper-free application have made HNI, UHNI, and family offices place their confidence in the fund despite market volatility,” said Sunil Rohokale, managing director and chief executive officer at ASK Group.  

“We launched a Category III AIF called ASK Emerging Opportunities Fund last year for which we have received good response. We have received Rs 1,188 crore of commitment and are already in the process of raising money in ASK Emerging Opportunities Fund – Series II. In the case of ASK Emerging Opportunities Fund, we have almost completed all our drawdowns and have done the final close in June 2022,” Agrawal said. 

ASK is represented in India through its key businesses - portfolio management services and alternative investment funds, real estate private equity and wealth advisory with multi-family office services.   

The company services clients through 20 offices and branches across India, Dubai, and Singapore. It caters to multiple asset classes and investors (such as HNI, institutional, family office, pension funds, funds of funds, and sovereign wealth funds) across Asia, West Asia, Africa, and Europe. As of May 31, the ASK Group was managing assets over Rs 78,900 crore.  

In February this year, Blackstone Group Inc has acquired a majority stake in asset and wealth management company ASK Investment Managers Ltd from existing investor Advent International and other sellers.   

The investment was made through the private equity funds managed by Blackstone, VCCircle reported.  

Blackstone's $881 billion in assets under management include investment vehicles focused on private equity, real estate, public debt and equity, infrastructure, life sciences, growth equity, opportunistic, non-investment grade credit, real assets and secondary funds, all on a global basis. 

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