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Banks in Singapore are scrutinizing their account holders as stricter tax evasion measures forces them to decide whether to send some of their wealthiest clients packing.EDGAR SU/Reuters

Mawer Investment Management Ltd. is opening an office in Singapore to get a closer read on Asian markets, making it the first independent Calgary-based portfolio manager to make the leap across the Pacific, according to the firm.

Mawer is moving veteran global equities analyst Peter Lampert to the new digs in August. Initially, the office will be solely for research, but longer term plans call for the addition of sales and marketing staff and, potentially, fund managers.

The firm is no stranger to Asian investing, having been active for about three decades. But boots on the ground will make face-to-face meetings with southeast Asian companies easier and give Mawer round-the-clock coverage of global equity markets.

"It will be a lot more convenient for us to continue that process from there," said Jim Hall, Mawer's chairman and chief investment officer. " Singapore itself is a crossroads and it's also very close to Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, where we already have investments and a lot of interest,"

Later on, the presence could help attract more clients outside Canada, Mr. Hall said.

Mawer is the largest of the Alberta-based independent fund management firms, with more than $16.4-billion under management and nearly 100 employees. Last year it expanded its Canadian presence when it opened a Toronto institutional sales branch that, by this summer, will have six on staff.

(Jeffrey Jones is a Globe and Mail Business Reporter.)

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