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´Provide first class investment solutions´

Anne Yobage, Fondsmanagerin des AXA IM FIIS US Short Duration High Yield Bonds Fonds, sprach exklusiv mit e-fundresearch über ihre spezielle Strategie am US High Yield Markt und das Management, die Team-Arbeit bei AXA und woher sie ihre Motivation bezieht. Funds | 04.08.2010 04:30 Uhr

e-fundresearch: Ms. Anne Yobage, your are the fund manager of the AXA IM FIIS US Short Duration High Yield Bonds Fund (ISIN: LU0211118053). Since when are your responsible for the fund management?

Yobage: The Fund was launched as an FCP in Luxembourg jurisdiction in April 2004; however, our Team in Greenwich, Connecticut has been managing assets in our US Short Duration High Yield Strategy continuously since 1992.

e-fundresearch: We understand that the US Short Duration High Yield Strategy is something quite unique to AXA Investment Managers. Could you explain a bit about the strategy?

Yobage: The idea behind the strategy is that there is a way to participate in the performance of the US High Yield market with substantially reduced volatility. Our investment universe is generally the portion of the US High Yield market that we expect to mature or otherwise be called through corporate action within 3 years. We focus on better quality and improving high yield bonds in this sector. It is all about capturing the current income that is available in this generally less volatile part of the High Yield market. We designed the product many years ago as a more conservative way to invest in the US High Yield market.

e-fundresearch: Which benchmark do you adhere to?

Yobage: There is no relevant benchmark for the strategy.

e-fundresearch: Are you also responsible for other funds at the moment?

Yobage: As one of the Principals of the US Fixed Income Team I share responsibility for all aspects of our US Fixed Income business. As a fund manager, however, I am primarily responsible for all client accounts, including the Luxembourg Fund, that are invested in accordance with our US Short Duration High Yield Strategy. This is where I spend the vast majority of my time.

The US Fixed Income Team of AXA Investment Managers manages a variety of public mutual funds that are available to non-US investors.

AXA WF US High Yield Bonds Fund;AXA IM FIIS US Short Duration High Yield Bonds Fund;AXA WF Global High Yield Bonds Fund; and,AXA IM FIIS US Corporate Bonds Fund

e-fundresearch: What is the total volume that you manage in all your funds?

Yobage: Assets under management in these 4 funds aggregated to just over 5.6 billion USD at the end of the first quarter. Including segregated accounts, the US Fixed Income Team manages approximately 40 billion USD.

e-fundresearch: Regarding the performance: which performance did you achieve since the beginning of the year and in the years 2003-2008? Absolutely and relatively to the relevant benchmark?

Yobage: Our US Short Duration High Yield composite performance, on a gross basis, is as follows:

e-fundresearch: How content are you with your own performance in the last years and this year?

Yobage: In 17 years of managing this unique product we have virtually matched the performance of the various passive high yield indices with about 1/3 the volatility of the overall High Yield market. We have experienced only one negative yearly return, and that occurred in 2008. I’m quite pleased with this record.

e-fundresearch: How are you able to deliver added value for your investors with your performance?

Yobage: We have a very large and diverse investor base across the globe. Our clients include pension funds, insurance companies, funds of funds, foundations, endowments, and an ever-growing number of private banks. Our clients utilise our US Short Duration High Yield Strategy for any number of unique reasons. The appeal generally seems to be a higher current income and lower volatility than can be found with other fixed income asset classes.  The risk/return characteristics of the strategy are extremely attractive.

e-fundresearch: What is the default experience of your fund?

Yobage: The Fund was launched in April 2004. Since that time we have experienced only one default. In fact, in the 17 years we have been managing our US Short Duration High Yield Strategy we have experienced only 3 defaults, as opposed to the High Yield bond market, which has witnessed almost 1000 defaults. The key to minimising the impact of a default is to maintain a highly diversified portfolio. Today our Fund is comprised of approximately 230 positions.

e-fundresearch: How long have you been a fund manager already?

Yobage: My entire professional career has been spent as a credit analyst and fund manager in the US High Yield corporate bond market. I began my career in New York in 1987.

e-fundresearch: What kind of capital market situation do we have at the moment? How do you act in this environment?

Yobage: The capital markets are currently extremely healthy and for many months now we have been in a period of tremendous refinancing activity. Because of the short duration nature of our portfolios we are being called out of securities, frequently by above-market tender offers, at a fairly rapid pace. Our portfolios tend to have high turnover as a result of this, and our reinvestment activity therefore requires a lot of work by our analysts and traders.

e-fundresearch: What are the special challenges in this environment?

Whenever refinancing activity occurs at such a rapid pace our workload increases commensurately, in both our back office and with our investment professionals, so I guess that becomes the most notable challenge. Fortunately, today’s US High Yield market is large enough, deep enough, and liquid enough that as we lose positions to corporate actions we are able to reinvest the proceeds into securities with similar risk/return profiles.

e-fundresearch: What motivates you in your job?

Yobage: There are many motivating factors in this job and it is a very fulfilling career. I work with a tremendously talented and motivated Team here in Greenwich and we have the support and strength of being part of one of the world’s foremost leaders in the asset management industry. Our goal is to provide first class investment solutions that meet the needs of our clients. My colleagues and I have always operated as entrepreneurs, and with such a mindset comes a deep appreciation of the importance of maintaining close relationships with our clients. Ensuring client satisfaction is not only motivating, it is ultimately rewarding.

e-fundresearch: Thank you for the interview!

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