Our approach to Emerging Market Debt

We trust that our approach of designing and deploying exhaustive investment frameworks that combine fundamental, market and ESG signals, is well suited to the asset class. Our investment frameworks are grounded on bottom-up creditworthiness analysis integrating ESG factors, disciplined relative value monitoring, and comprehensive top-down assessment. We aim to maximise alpha by optimising the number of uncorrelated relative value strategies we implement, within a risk-controlled environment.

We believe that ESG factors cannot and should not be ignored. ESG factors account for an important share of our sovereign and corporate creditworthiness assessments, and we expect that these will only grow in importance as regulation evolves and funding costs for issuers with poor ESG metrics rise 

Diliana Deltcheva
Head of Emerging Market Debt
Emerging market debt remains an inefficient asset class replete with asymmetric risks. Our investment approach aims to exhaustively analyse and actively trade the full suite of macro-economic, political, and climate risks EM countries are exposed to. ESG analysis is integral to our asset selection, and we deploy sophisticated frameworks to monitor a country’s energy and governance transition trajectory.

A growing presence in EMD since 1996

Candriam launched its first Emerging Market Debt strategy in 1996 and has since materially expanded its EMD product offering to the full set of five EMD sub-strategies. We offer actively-managed benchmarked solutions that target to outperform their reference index, net of fees, on a consistent basis.

All EMD strategies explicitly integrate ESG considerations in their asset selection processes with the Sustainable Sovereign and the Emerging Market Corporate strategies going a step further to only allow investments in issuers with materially lower climate and governance risks relative to their indices.

  • 1998 – launch of Emerging Debt Hard Currency Sovereign
  • 2011 – launch of Emerging Debt Local Currencies
  • 2016 – launch of Emerging Debt Hard Currency Sovereign Sustainable
  • 2017 – launch of Emerging Debt Total Return, blend reference index
  • 2019 – launch of Emerging Debt Hard Currency Corporates


Creditworthiness analysis at the core of our process

The EMD team aims to add alpha by identifying and successfully trading fundamental and/or ESG improvements of EM issuers before they are reflected in valuations. We aim to avoid credit deteriorations, especially if distressed issuers have not yet priced for credit events.

The EMD team conduct extensive due diligence for each issuer we are invested in summarized as proprietary credit ratings. These, next to our relative value frameworks largely determine how we construct our active strategies. Liquidity is a critical feature of the asset class, and our disciplined risk management approach is reflective of it. We continuously align portfolios with the level of conviction and take profits and step out of positions if targets are reached or rationale is exhausted.

Traditionally, EM sovereign creditworthiness analysis has incorporated social and governance indicators to gauge a credit’s convergence trajectory. Since 2019, we have rebalanced our sovereign sustainability framework towards a clear focus on environmental preservation and energy transition. We work closely with ESG analysts to arrive at an exhaustive credit rating, aware of both financial and material extra-financial factors.



Global macro risks are actively monitored and managed

The EMD team have developed an exhaustive assessment of global macro risks and themes that is formally updated monthly, or more often if material events, or data surprises challenge the asset class outlook. The top-down scorecard aims to aggregate and quantify views on global liquidity conditions, US Treasuries and Commodities, Chinese and EM fundamentals next to EMD sub-asset class specific fundamental, valuation and technical drivers. The ultimate result is a forward-looking asset class assessment that decision-makers aims to reflect across EMD strategies, by dialing up or down interest rate or credit risk exposure, corporate versus sovereign or local currency versus hard currency sovereign allocations.


Focused approach to EM sustainable investing

We deploy fundamental, ESG and liquidity screens to filter down the EM corporate investment universe. For our sustainable EM bond strategies, the investable universe explicitly excludes the bottom quartile of EM sovereign issuers, considering their trend development, and countries classified as Not Free as per the Freedom House’s assessment. This allows us to focus on a relevant opportunity set of fundamentally strong issuers with relatively lower sustainability challenges.

We also implement Candriam’s Controversial Activity screening policy across all EMD investments. 


Experienced investment team

The investment team is composed of hard currency, local currency, and corporate specialists, with clear product and research focus. We are a professional team with more than 10 years of average experience and have invested and learned through several market cycles. We believe in deploying predictable investment frameworks and uncover opportunities and are continuously improving these, to stay ahead of peers.

We have set up clear structures of strategy accountability and prefer to work as a team. We review investment rationale within co-management committees and have substantive discussions on the merits of our arguments. We have set up a predictable and transparent calendar of daily, weekly and monthly meetings to manage our analytical and decision-making workflow. Our decision-making process remains flexible as we can enact investment decisions swiftly.

We work closely with our colleagues from the global fixed income, emerging equity and ESG teams to produce exhaustive assessments of creditworthiness and of global factors that may impact our asset class. 

Figures are worth a thousand words

€ 3 bn

in Assets under management

Key Strategies, EMD HC Sovereign and EMD HC Sustainable Sovereign, EMD HC Corporates, EMD LC, EMD Total Return or Blend


Investment experts

500 EM

Investment universe of Corporate and Quasi-sovereign issuers across 80 emerging market countries.

Main risks on Emerging Market Debt

  • Risk of loss of capital
  • Equity risk
  • Interest rate risk
  • Credit risk
  • High Yield risk
  • Risk on Cocos
  • Currency risk
  • Liquidity risk
  • Concentration risk
  • Derivative risk
  • Counterparty Risk
  • Arbitrage risk
  • Emerging market risk
  • ESG investment risk

Do you want to know more about our Fixed income funds?

Find out more

  • All our publications
  • Meet our experts
  • Candriam in the press

Find it fast

Get information faster with a single click

Get insights straight to your inbox