Continuing its push into international money management, Mellon Bank Corp. this week formed an alliance with Tokyo-Mitsubishi Asset Management, a unit of Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi.
The alliance, through Dreyfus Corp., Mellon's money-management subsidiary, comes on the heels of a similar push by the bank to gain a presence in Latin America.
Dreyfus will act as a subadviser to the Japanese asset management company in a non-exclusive arrangement. The alliance will get going next month with the launch of the Tokyo-Mitsubishi Global Balanced Fund, said W. Keith Smith, vice chairman of Pittsburgh-based Mellon.
The fund will focus on a range of developed markets and will contain a mix of equities, bonds, and cash, he added.
The move was sparked by recent deregulation in Japan, which has made it easier for banks to sell investment products.
"There's a very strong demand in the Japanese market for investment products that offer a better return than traditional deposit products," said Mr. Smith.
Mellon's Japanese deal differs in structure from its arrangements with the Chilean banking company Bicecorp SA and Brazil's Banco Brascan, which called for Mellon to take equity stakes in those banks. But all the deals are part of the same strategy, Mr. Smith said.
"We believe that the way for us to expand globally and to capitalize on the very substantial capabilities that we bring is to do it with partners in each country that we go into," he said.
Mellon will explore similar alliances in international money management and is currently looking at a situation in Southeast Asia, Mr. Smith said. But the bank does not intend to buy another company outright, he said.
"Our strategy is not to go it alone and make big investments," Mr. Smith said.
Indeed, said Geoffrey H. Bobroff, a mutual fund analyst based in East Greenwich, R.I., "to have any positive impact in Asia you still need to do a joint venture."
But he cautioned that "there's no guarantees that these things are going to work."
Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi already has its hand in the U.S. market, as parent of San Francisco-based Union Bank of California. Union Bank has its own proprietary fund family, the Highmark Funds. Mr. Bobroff speculated, though, that the Dreyfus name offered more of a brand identity to the Japanese bank than did Union Bank's funds.
However, a Union Bank spokesman said the bank is currently working on several mutual funds that would be joint ventures between the California bank and its Japanese parent. The funds would not be global, he said.