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Australian regulator temporarily halts orders on two Perpetual funds

(Reuters) – Australian securities regulator on Friday directed a unit of asset manager Perpetual Ltd to stop offering or distributing two funds to retail investors on an interim basis due to significant market risks involved.

The announcement comes at a time when Perpetual is looking to seal a deal with buyers EQT-owned Barings Private Equity Asia (BPEA) and Regal Partners while being cornered by a court to pursue its own takeover proposal for rival Pendal Group.

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) said the Perpetual Pure Microcap Fund and Perpetual Geared Australian Share Fund, offered by Perpetual Investment Management, have been asked to stop issuing interest or giving advice to retail investors for 21 days.

The funds’ portfolio are exposed to high market volatility and carry significant risks, increasing chances of large losses for investors, the regulator said.

“ASIC made the interim orders to protect retail investors from potentially investing in funds that may not be suitable for their financial objectives, situation or needs,” the regulator said.

“ASIC is concerned that Perpetual has not appropriately considered these features and risks in determining the wide target markets for the funds.”

The regulator expects Perpetual “to take immediate steps” to ensure compliance.

Perpetual did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

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