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John Snowden plans China push

 JOHN Snowden is looking to China to grow the offshore funds of AIMS Financial Group.

Mr Snowden is the newly appointed global property securities head at the Sydney-based group.

The former Colonial First State Global Asset Management property securities head is taking over at AIMS from Roberto Versace, who resigned last month to take on a portfolio management role with an arm of the Bank of New York in Singapore.

Mr Snowden said there was substantial interest in global property securities funds from investors in Europe, North America and Asia, and he was particularly excited about tapping the Chinese market.

He was in the process of hiring a team that would include Chinese analysts, he said.

Restrictions on offshore investment by China's national pension fund were gradually being lifted and there was growing international interest in Chinese real estate, he said.

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"There are many opportunities within Asia and I believe that a dedicated China fund would attract a lot of interest from investors in Australia, Europe and North America," Mr Snowden said.

"We will launch global funds and start to source Chinese capital market for these funds."

AIMS founder and chief executive George Wang, who has close contacts in China, is in the process of starting multi-million-dollar development property projects in Tianjin, a northern Chinese city.

Some of the assets could be packaged into listed trusts.

Mr Snowden said it was difficult for Westerners to access the Chinese market without the right connections.

Eventually, he would like to replicate what he did at Colonial First State and UBS, where he played a key role in developing global property securities businesses.

It would take one or two years to get up to speed, depending on "how quickly we can attract the money", he said.

At Colonial, he oversaw the rapid growth of a global property securities fund on behalf of Japan's Diam Mizuho banking group, growing funds under management from $300 million to $2 billion.

In that time, Mr Snowden and his Colonial team set up about 20 funds listed in London, Dublin and elsewhere, specialising in global, Asian, Australian and European property securities.

Mr Snowden will work with the network already in place at AIMS. Through its acquisition of MacarthurCook Funds Management, AIMS inherited funds listed on the Singapore and US stock exchanges.


    Snowden plans China push