Neuberger Berman Boosts Assets in East Asia, Plans More Hiring

Neuberger Berman Group LLC, the money manager that was part of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. until that firm failed, has more than doubled its assets in East Asia since March 2010 and plans to add staff in the region.

Assets from Japanese and South Korean clients grew to $6.2 billion as of September from $2.3 billion in March 2010, according to Chief Executive Officer George Walker. The New York-based firm currently has about 30 employees in Japan and South Korea and plans to expand that number by more than 10 percent over the next 12 months, he said.

Japanese investors have poured funds into higher-yielding assets amid Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policies to end 15 years of deflation and spark growth that drove the Nikkei 225 Stock Average to the highest in more than five years. The start of the Nippon Individual Savings Account program next year allowing people to buy 1 million yen ($9,995) of risk assets exempt from capital gain taxes annually for five years, may also prompt individuals to invest, Walker said.

“We had good success in the Japanese retail business,” Walker, 44, said in a telephone interview from the firm’s Tokyo office yesterday. “The NISA reforms will do a good job of continuing to enable Japanese individuals to transfer wealth from low-yielding deposit accounts into more prudent long-term saving vehicles.”

Pension Mandate

Among the accomplishments in Japan, Neuberger Berman got its first mandate from a public pension fund, Walker said, declining to provide further details, because the information is private. In other parts of Asia, the money manager saw its strongest growth in Singapore and Taiwan. It also grew its business in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Melbourne, he said.

Assets under management in Asia, excluding Japan and South Korea, increased to $4.8 billion as of September from $100 million in March 2010, according to the firm. The number of clients in Japan and South Korea increased to 122 from about 80 in the three-and-a-half years while elsewhere in Asia it has 60 clients, up from about 10 in the same period, it said.

Neuberger Berman had $227 billion of assets under management at the end of September, according to its website, of which $112 billion are invested in equities, $97 billion in fixed income and $18 billion in alternative assets like private equity.

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