Generali Investments unveils global ambitions for third-party business

Generali Investments held a press briefing on 11 March in London to present the development strategy for its third-party business, managing €17bn and led by Antoinette Valraud, also head of Fixed Income France.

InvestmentEurope reported in its February issue that the firm had plans to establish further presence in the UK and in the Nordics, in addition to European markets it has already entered.

The Italian “liability-driven” asset manager, as described by CEO Santo Borsellino (pictured), has set a target of €8bn in net new cash over the three coming years on this segment.

The UK and the Nordics are two core institutional markets that cannot be avoided any longer, said Borsellino.

The registration of the company’s funds in the UK are underway – approval is to be reached in 6 to 8 weeks – and a London office, that will first focusing on product marketing, is to open in a few months.

Andrea Favaloro, head of Sales and Marketing, highlighted Generali Investments’ will to become a reliable partner for the UK pension funds.

“The shift from DB to DC can open opportunities for non-British based asset managers,” he said.

Favaloro added that establishing a presence in the UK could give a hand to Generali’s branch in Guernsey that offers offshore unit-linked products to global clients, mostly expatriates.

Borsellino said that Generali Investments has been talking to distributors in US and Asia in order to eventually market its funds in these areas. But he said local regulations have to be taken into account before any move.

Speaking of Asia, Favaloro underlined “interest rising for euro Europe based asset managers” in certain markets within the area.

Generali Investments’ CEO said the firm was not considering acquisitions of asset managers at this stage, rather looking for organic growth.

However, he assessed the current environment would bring opportunities on the table. Regulatory and compliance issues, together with the growth of passive management, are likely to squeeze margins, he believes, and in that context, opportunities would emerge with small and medium players.

Favaloro said the key priority for the third-party management business was to diversify its scope and to focus on segments on which services provided by Generali Investments would be highly valuable.

He argued the firm “does not want to become an asset management doing everything for everybody in any market.”

As a consequence, the retail segment will only invested through the deployment of the group’s unit-linked offering in Italy and the firm will not go for external retail business, depicting the segment as “expensive, mature and overcrowded”.

Anna Khazen, Generali’s head of Investments, said the firm was looking at launching alternative funds including absolute return. She added Generali Investments seeks to deepen areas in which it has expertise and to add themes in which the company might have its word to say.

Recruitment is to occur in multi-assets, equities, fixed income and quant equities teams.

Generali Investments had €431bn of assets under management at end 2015.

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