By Bansari Mayur Kamdar
(Reuters) -Popular investor Cathie Wood is entering the European market with the acquisition of Rize ETF, but some investors are skeptical about the one-time pandemic darling’s foray into the region’s nascent ETF market.
Wood’s ARK Invest acquired Rize ETF, a provider of thematic and sustainable investing, from British asset and wealth management business AssetCo in a private deal for an undisclosed amount on Tuesday, it said in a statement.
The Rize ETF brand will be phased out, as the platform transitions into “ARK Invest Europe.”
Thematic ETFs, which usually track high-growth and volatile stocks, are seeing a recovery this year after sharp outflows last year following their pandemic-era boom, investors said.
Shares of Ark’s flagship fund, ARK Innovation, have gained 33% so far this year, after two straight years of sharp losses.
“It will be interesting to see the demand for ARK products in Europe, especially after a few years of poor performance,” said Laith Khalaf, head of investment analysis at AJ Bell.
“ARK now has a foot in the European door, but it still has work to do to persuade fund buyers they need exposure to their specialist, high-octane fund range.”
As of Aug. 31, 2023, Rize ETF managed $452 million across 11 UCITS ETFs distributed throughout Europe, according to its statement.
ARK, meanwhile, manages nearly $25 billion in ETFs and other products globally.
ARK Invest in a statement said the acquisition was driven by dynamic shifts in the investment landscape and Europe’s growing appetite for active ETFs.
Overall, adoption of active ETFs in Europe has lagged U.S. peers, according to Kamil Sudiyarov, product manager at VanEck Europe.
European ETF assets have lagged those invested in U.S. exchange-traded funds, according to data from Morningstar Direct. As of the end of August, U.S.-domiciled ETFs had $7.48 trillion in assets, while Europe-based funds had a mere $1.65 trillion. The gap in assets invested in the actively managed ETF category is even larger, with European funds having assets of $36.14 billion compared to $441.29 billion in U.S. funds.
“Europe has a lot of catch-up to do,” Sudiyarov said.
(Reporting by Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Suzanne McGee; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Mark Porter)