Citi makes special centennial funds offer

Citibank is offering a special global equities fund to bank customers in Singapore and Hong Kong.

To celebrate 100 years operating in Asia, Citibank is marketing a mutual fund to bank customers in Singapore and Hong Kong this month that will give investors a cheap, long-term exposure to the world's leading blue chips, says Betty Ng, director of wealth management for the consumer bank in Hong Kong.

Using Salomon Smith Barney sell-side analysts and Citigroup Asset Management's asset allocation skills, Citibank has put together an open-ended fund investing in 30 of the world's leading global companies, all of which must have over $5 billion in market capitalization - the likes of Nestle, News Corporation, Pfizer, Canon or Hutchison Whampoa.

The strategy is buy and hold, explains Wendy Lim, regional marketing director. Except for extreme cases, the portfolio will only be reviewed once a year, based on analysts' 12-month picks. The concept is meant to reflect the bank's own long history and global position.

The subscription period for the Smith Barney Select Global Business Leaders Portfolio concludes May 30. It is designed to give retail investors a crack at owning global blue chips: existing bank customers can buy units for as little as $1,000, while new customers must put up $5,000 or more. It comes with a front-end load of 1.25% plus a 1.50% sales charge that is amortized over 10 months, as well as a 0.65% management fee. The total charge for the first year, therefore, is 3.40%.

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