(Bloomberg) -- Australian asset manager First Sentier Investors plans to shutter investment funds with a total of A$14 billion ($9 billion) in assets under management and return the money to investors, in a retreat from low-margin business lines.

The Sydney-based firm, which is owned by Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., will close four investment teams that focus on Australian fixed income, global credit, equity income and emerging companies, according to a statement. 

The strategies account for less than 6% of First Sentier’s A$238 billion in assets under management globally, said a spokesperson, who confirmed the total size of the funds that will be closed. Around 30 staff will depart as a result, including Stephen Cooper, who heads the firm’s Australian and New Zealand fixed income assets, the spokesperson said. 

The change is one of the most dramatic responses yet to a squeeze being experienced by fund managers across the industry. Asset management firms in Australia are suffering as the country’s enormous pension industry is increasingly opting to bring investment functions in-house, or to go with flat-fee structures for the funds they have farmed out to third-party managers. 

An earlier report in the Australian Financial Review said the First Sentier funds being closed included A$8 billion in debt funds and another A$6 billion across equities. The funds being shuttered also have money from individual investors. 

“While these teams have delivered strong client outcomes over a long period of time, they have been unable to achieve growth that meets our ambitions,” David Allen, the firm’s global head of investment management, said in the statement. 

“Shifting industry dynamics such as client consolidation, internalization of investment management and ongoing margin pressures” have impacted the outlook for investment businesses, Allen said. He also said First Sentier intends to grow its business by offering more differentiated investment offerings, and by focusing on capabilities that are most relevant to its clients. 

First Sentier was founded in 1988 and used to be the global asset management unit of Commonwealth Bank of Australia. The country’s largest bank retreated from the industry in 2019 with a sale of the unit to Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group for A$4.13 billion.

The firm was previously known as First State Investments globally, and Colonial First State Global Asset Management in Australia. It has offices in 9 countries and more than 1,000 employees around the world. The firm manages money for pension funds, institutions and other clients, and its assets are spread across global equities, fixed income, infrastructure, property and alternative credit. 

A First Sentier Equity Income Fund, which launched in 2008, employs a defensive equity strategy that aims to generate reliable income and some capital growth from Australian shares. The fund produced a 6.6% annualized return over the past 10 years, but has underperformed the S&P/ASX 100 Accumulation Index over short- and long-term periods, according to the fund manager’s website.

The firm’s global credit income fund, which has been around since 2000, invests in higher-yielding Australian and international fixed income assets, and has beat its benchmark with a 3.1% annualized return over the past decade.

In an interview with the AFR, Allen said clients are more interested in private markets, where there are fewer passive-investment options and fees for asset managers tend to be higher.

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