This article is authored by MOI Global instructor Florian Weidinger, Chief Executive Officer at Hansabay, based in Singapore.

Florian is an instructor at Asian Investing Summit 2021.

Southeast Asia is an overlooked asset class. More than half a trillion dollars of foreign direct investment is showing public equity investors the way.

SEA should not be a niche

We at Hansabay, investment managers covering the region, believe that Southeast Asia (“SEA”), the world’s 5th largest economy with more than 600 million people is an unjustifiably overlooked asset class – and curiously near its cheapest relative to broader Asia and Emerging Markets in over ten years, at a point in time when long-term fundamentals have never really looked better.

(For purposes of this article, let us equate geographic Southeast Asia with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, short ASEAN, covering the Mekong countries of Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos, as well as Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia; Papua New Guinea and East Timor are seeking accession to ASEAN.)

ASEAN represents the most integrated group of nations after the European Union, and its economy of over $3 trillion nominal GDP is the world’s 5th largest, bigger than the United Kingdom in developed markets, and bigger than India in emerging markets. Yet it is undiscovered as an equity market with an MSCI market cap of only around $700bn, the same as Tesla. Curiously, for every 1 dedicated SEA fund manager on Bloomberg there are more than 20 dedicated India managers, for a comparable opportunity.

SEA is made for active management and constructive shareholder activism: there are more than 5k listed stocks, with a majority with no analyst coverage and median coverage of 1-2 analysts, typically family-owned businesses.

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