A Second Frontier Markets ETF Debuts

July 09, 2008

The new fund from PowerShares covers the Middle East and North Africa.

Today PowerShares is scheduled to join Claymore on the frontier—frontier markets, that is—with the launch of the PowerShares MENA Frontier Countries Portfolio (NASDAQ: PMNA) on the Nasdaq stock market.

The new fund will track the NASDAQ OMX Middle East North Africa Index, which currently covers Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Nigeria. That alone means it is a far different animal from the recently launched Claymore/BNY Mellon Frontier Markets ETF (AMEX: FRN), which takes a more global approach to frontier investing, potentially including stocks from countries in Europe, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and all of Africa.

Really, it seems unlikely the two funds will be in competition with each other at all. PMNA is for investors looking to make an investment in a specific region—and an oil-rich region, to boot—within the frontier markets universe, not necessarily in frontier markets as an asset class.

Nearly 40% of PMNA is weighted in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, with Kuwait a little further down the list of countries at nearly 15% of the index—essentially, more than half of PMNA's holdings will be in three Middle Eastern countries known for their vast oil wealth. By contrast, Chile and Poland are both weighted at more than 20% in FRN's underlying index, while Qatar is not even in the index and Kuwait and the UAE together add up to less than a 5% weighting. The only similarity of note is the fact that Egypt is the third-largest country in each index, with a weighting of 16.11% in PMNA and 17.42% in FRN. Ironically, Egypt is typically categorized as an emerging market rather than a frontier market by the major index providers.

The new PowerShares ETF charges 0.95%, with a waiver that brings the actual price down to 0.70%. FRN charges 0.65%.

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