Tom Mondelaers: In July 2009.
e-fundresearch.com: What is the current size of the fund?
Tom Mondelaers: That is 369,4 Mio. Euro. (as per 31 Jan 2013)
e-fundresearch.com: Do you also manage other funds or mandates?
Tom Mondelaers: As a member of the Fundamental Euro Fixed Income Team, I focus on Euro portfolios.
e-fundresearch.com: How long have you been in the business as a fund manager?
Tom Mondelaers: For about 15 years. My service with BlackRock dates back to 2002, including my time with Merrill Lynch Investment Managers (MLIM), which merged with BlackRock in 2006. I became part of the fixed income team at MLIM after the acquisition of Philips Investment Management in September 2005. Prior to joining Philips 2002, I worked at AXA Investment Managers and AXA Bank NV.
e-fundresearch.com: What are the main steps in your investment process and in which area is your competitive edge to add value to investors?
Tom Mondelaers: Since its founding in 1988, the hallmark of BlackRock’s Fundamental fixed income process has been the application of a diversified range of strategies based on rigorous analysis combined with the judgment of experienced professionals. BlackRock’s investment philosophy for the Euro Credit strategy is an extension of this approach that focuses on active sector/sub-sector rotation and security selection. This approach is consistent with academic studies indicating that portfolios with larger numbers of uncorrelated positions will tend to have more consistently strong performance over time.
BlackRock’s approach to the management of Fundamental Euro Corporate Bonds has a primary focus on sector rotation and security selection. Primary source of added value is expected to be credit related. We use top down macroeconomic analysis to determine views on credit environment, preferred security types, outlook for individual industry sectors and positioning on credit spectrum and duration/yield curve. Bottom up credit analysis is focused on security selection. We view a combination of fundamental credit research and quantitative analysis of sectors and individual securities as key to adding value in a corporate bond mandate, and consider the more traditional strategies (duration, country, currency) only as a secondary source of added value. The fund invests in a wide range of bonds with a diversified spread of multinational issuers and high quality financial institutions.
The investment process is centered around two weekly formal Investment Strategy Meetings involving lead global CIO’s and senior portfolio managers. Following discussions with their teams, the Lead Investment Managers present their team views during the Market Outlook Meeting, attended by all fixed income investment professionals. Next, the Lead Managers from the Portfolio and Investment Teams, along with representatives from BlackRock’s Risk & Quantitative Analysis Group, hold the Portfolio Strategy Meeting to discuss asset allocation, portfolio risk, and investment themes. This meeting is designed to share ideas across Portfolio Teams as each determines the appropriate interest rate risk, convexity, term structure, credit quality, liquidity bias and sector allocations for individual strategies. The outcome of these strategy meetings is then used as a key input into the local Euro team meeting, where appropriate implementation and sizing of strategies is discussed and determined at the detailed portfolio level. While the investment themes are discussed formally on a weekly basis, the process is dynamic with ongoing discussion and modifications as needed. Ultimate responsibility for the performance of the BGF Euro Corporate Bond Fund rests with me, the dedicated Fund Manager.
e-fundresearch.com: Which benchmark is most relevant and how should investors compare the fund vs. benchmarks or peer groups?
Tom Mondelaers: We benchmark our fund to the BoAML EMU Corporate Bond.
e-fundresearch.com: Which performance did you achieve for the fund YTD and over the past five calendar years in absolute terms and relative to relevant benchmark or other reference indices?
Tom Mondelaers: In January, the BGF Euro Corporate Bond Fund’s performance was -1,1 percent. Over the past five years, it gained 26,7 percent. That was exceptionally good compared to the peer group, so the fund ranked in the 2nd quartile of its peers. In the same time, the BoAML EMU Corporate Bond gained 30,8 percent. e-fundresearch.com: Many Thanks!