Axa Framlington hires Hardie for Japanese desk

Chisako Hardie is joining Axa Framlington as fund manager on its Edinburgh-based Japanese desk.

Hardie, currently the manager of Scottish Widows Investment Partnership’s Japanese Smaller Companies fund, will join the firm in early June.

Hardie will work alongside Anja Balfour, manager of the Framlington Japan fund.

“I expect Chisako to take a very active role in small-caps straight away,” says Balfour. “We regard Japan as a growth area and want to expand our resources and products.”

There are no immediate plans to launch a small-cap fund but Balfour says this will be considered, depending on investor demand.

Framlington Japan currently has a significant bias towards large-cap stocks, with 67% of assets at February 28.

While Hardie’s record is in small and mid-caps, Balfour says there are no targets for increasing small-cap exposure.

“It is very much bottom-up stock selection, driven by ideas and relative valuations,” she says. “We reduced our exposure to small-caps last year due to overvaluations.”

The fund will continue to be managed from Britain, a factor that Balfour considers an advantage.

“It gives us space to make good-quality investment decisions, away from short-term noise,” she says.

“But we still get good access to companies and management on a regular basis. Companies tend to send very senior people to the UK.”

The fund had 113m in assets under management at February 28, with more than 50% of its holdings in financials and industrials.

Hardie had managed the Swip fund since she joined in 2000.

Matt Harris, who joined Swip in 2002 as head of research for Japanese equities, will take over the running of the 15m portfolio.