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De Mello Moves to Schroders From Western to Run Asia Debt

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June 2 (Bloomberg) -- Rajeev De Mello will move to Schroders Plc to run Asian debt investments for the U.K.’s biggest publicly traded fund company, leaving his job at Western Asset Management Co.

De Mello, 45, said he will be based in Schroders’ office in Singapore. He ran investments and operations in the city for Western Asset Management, part of Baltimore-based Legg Mason Inc. He confirmed the transfer in an e-mail today after Asian Investor magazine reported the move.

In an interview earlier today, De Mello said there were several reasons to be bullish on Asia bonds and currencies. Asian economic growth will outpace the rest of the world, rating companies are criticizing record debt levels in Japan and the U.S., and Greece and Ireland have needed bailouts, he said.

“If you’re looking for safe-haven assets, Asia debt stands out as having much better financial ratios,” De Mello said. “Growth is high enough to service all the debt.”

The Chinese yuan, South Korea’s won and Indian bonds are his favorite investments in the region, he said.

De Mello moved to Singapore from Geneva in 2005 with Pictet Asset Management, part of Swiss private bank Pictet & Cie. He started two Asian bonds funds to meet demand for higher yields from Pictet’s customers.

He left Pictet in 2007 for Western Asset Management, where he started the Asian Opportunities Fund. It has returned 14.6 percent in the past year, beating about four-fifths of its competitors, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The fund is little changed over the past month, lagging behind three-quarters of its peers, the data show.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lilian Karunungan in Singapore at at lkarunungan@bloomberg.net; Wes Goodman in Singapore at wgoodman@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Sandy Hendry at shendry@bloomberg.net

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