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Hong Kong’s Value Partners, hit by coronavirus, cuts workforce, sources say

By Hui Ching-hoo and Goh Thean Eu  
April 7, 2020

Hong Kong fund manager Value Partners Group Ltd has trimmed its workforce over the last three months as the company moves to cut costs amid the coronavirus pandemic, with some 20 employees resigning voluntarily from its front and back offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, according to people familiar with the matter.

Around ten resigned in January, including Alistair Ding, sales director and country head for Singapore.

Another ten resigned last month, including Michael Mills, managing director for alternative products, and Michael Greenall, the Kuala Lumpur-based head of Southeast Asia.

Value Partners may be downsizing its workforce because of the sluggish performance of some of its funds, which has worsened since the coronavirus outbreak spread worldwide, according to the people familiar with the matter.

“The performances of the funds are expected to further drag down the company’s profitability and overall assets under management growth,” one of these people tells Asia Asset Management (AAM).

According to another person, Mr. Greenall is currently working out his notice, and he may be replaced by Durraini Baharuddin, the director for Malaysia business.

Mr. Greenall did not immediately respond to questions from AAM.

A spokesperson for Value Partners declined to comment about specific staff movements, saying only that the company is keeping close tabs on the impact of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

"During this difficult time, Value Partners' management team is carefully monitoring the impact that Covid-19 will have on its workforce," the spokesperson tells AAM.

As at April 6, there were 1.27 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 69,487 deaths worldwide.

Value Partners has no immediate plans to shut down its operations in Malaysia and Singapore, according to a senior company executive.

“The two offices are still actively running. In Kuala Lumpur, it is still very much business as usual, and it is at the tail end of launching two new products,” the executive tells AAM.

The outlook for Value Partners remains unclear, says Jemmy Huang, equity research associate at JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific).

"We have seen slight improvement in the company's management fee in the fourth quarter of 2019, but its outlook remains uncertain because of the current volatile market condition," Mr. Huang tells AAM.

Value Partners had US$13.7 billion of assets under management as at February 29, down 8.6% from $15 billion at the end of 2019.