The fund has delivered cumulative return of 31.54% since its 31 January 2012 launch while its benchmark MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex Japan Small Cap Index returned just 5.47% in the same period (data as of 25 January 2013).

Commenting on the performance, Tor Indhavivadha, CEO of Manulife Asset Management (Thailand), said: "We are proud to have delivered one of the strongest performing investment vehicles available to investors in Thailand over the past year. The Manulife Strength – Asian Small Cap Equity FIF has delivered outstanding returns to unit holders in the year since its inception, outperforming its benchmark by 26.07%. Manulife Asset Management is committed to providing investors with long-term investment vehicles like the MS-ASIAN SM, which aims to deliver impressive risk-adjusted returns across market cycles."

The MS-ASIAN SM is a feeder fund that invests in a ‘master fund’, the Manulife Global Fund – Asian Small Cap Equity Fund (share class I). The master fund is managed by Linda Csellak, Head of Asia Pacific Equities for Manulife Asset Management, out of the firm’s regional hub in Hong Kong. She is supported by more than 70 local-market equity market specialists in the company’s Thailand office and across Asia. The master fund carries a five-star rating from Morningstar (as of December 2012) and Csellak was recently awarded an AAA fund manager rating by Citywire Global in recognition of her strong track record.

Csellak explained the key features of the master fund’s investment strategy: "We believe the Asian Small Cap Equity fund’s track record of returns highlights the role of stock picking in generating strong risk-adjusted returns. The fund utilises fundamental, bottom-up research to identify ‘hidden gems’ – smaller listed companies in the Asia-Pacific region that have clear catalysts for growth but are not yet widely followed by industry analysts. We aim to purchase this growth potential at a discount, making early stage investments to capture share price upside as the broader market recognises the stock’s potential."

Commenting on Manulife Asset Management’s outlook for Asia-Pacific equities, Csellak said: "Liquidity should be abundant in Asia as loose monetary policy remains in place across most of the region and in major economies around the world – Asia has been enjoying strong fund inflow and we expect this to continue in 2013. China’s economy has shown signs of renewed strength over the past few months and Chinese equities are very attractive. Meanwhile, economic growth should remain robust in South East Asia as consumer spending is still strong, infrastructure spending is picking up in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines and labour-intensive manufacturers are increasingly favouring the region as a production base."

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