Jupiter's De Blonay plans U.S., Asia shift

LONDON Thu May 6, 2010 4:06pm BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Fund firm Jupiter's Guy de Blonay, who will co-manage one of Britain's most successful financial funds, plans to swap out of European banks into Asian and U.S. stocks he says will enjoy the biggest growth opportunities.

De Blonay, who will co-run the 1.4 billion pound Financial Opportunities Fund alongside star fund manager Philip Gibbs from June 1, said allocations in the long-only fund could rise above 50 percent for the two regions combined.

"Most of the growth and potential returns will be found in the U.S and Asia," De Blonay told Reuters in an interview.

"In the U.S., the recovery is well advanced and banks there represent a very good opportunity for investment on current valuations."

De Blonay also likes Asia especially China which he said had emerged unscathed from the financial crisis, with growth back to 2007 levels.

At the end of March, the fund held 25 percent of its assets in Europe, 19 percent in North America, and 15 percent apiece in Britain and the Far East excluding Japan. Those holdings were smaller than they might have been given 22 percent of the fund was in cash.

For the euro zone, De Blonay said that even with the Greek bailout in place, it would be a long, hard climb before stability would fully return to the region. "The best case scenario is that euro zone will fall into a long prolonged low growth period that will make investors disappointed," he said.

European counties he prefers to focus on are Norway, because of its oil-backed economy, and Switzerland.

Late last year, Jupiter hired De Blonay, who had managed the New Star Global Financial Fund since 2001 and had joined Anglo-Australian fund firm Henderson (HGGH.L) after it had taken over rival New Star in early 2009.

De Blonay will also take on management of the Jupiter Hyde Park Hedge Fund from Gibbs from June 1.

Under the stewardship of Gibbs, the Jupiter Financial Opportunities Fund was one of the few financial funds to turn a profit during the financial crisis. The fund has had a return of 841 percent since launch in June 1997 and 20.8 percent last year, according to Lipper data.

The fund's biggest allocation is to JP Morgan Chase (JPM.N) where it holds a 7.8 percent stake. Other large holdings are in Barclays (BARC.L), Bank of China (601988.SS), HSBC (HSBA.L), BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA), Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) and Societe Generale (SOGN.PA).

De Blonay picked HSBC and Standard Chartered (STAN.L) as banks that would benefit from the global recovery and their exposure to Asia, and Barclays because of the British bank's "management, efficiency and exposure to different markets outside the UK".

(Editing by Dan Lalor)