German private banks build stake in Universal Investment

Private banks Berenberg Bank and Bankhaus Lampe have increased their stake in Germany’s Universal Investment to 50%, in a vote of confidence in the fund platform model.

The two banks have been stakeholders for decades, and in April announced they had bought out Hauck & Aufhaeuser’s stake, to own 35.7%.

After also buying the stake held by Landesbank Baden-Württemberg, they know hold half of the equity in the Frankfurt-headquartered platform.

Universal’s mandate platform business has enjoyed spectacular asset growth since the 2008 crisis.

In 2009 it took in €2.41bn, which was over 70% of total new business won by Germany’s 10 most popular mutual fund managers that year, according to Cerulli.

In 2010 it took in even more fresh business (€2.63bn), again ranking it the most popular German manager based on new business, though a pick-up in industry flows in German mutual funds generally meant Universal’s wins were only one third of fresh assets won by the most popular 10 German managers.

In 2011 it ranked eighth based on inflows, with €218.3m net flows, according to Cerulli.

This year it has grown assets by about €13bn.

Recently it has launched property funds on its Luxembourg platform, and it plans several German property funds, for institutional investors, with a combined target asset volume of €2bn.

Computer-driven investors Aquantum, co-founded by an alumnus of Winton Capital Management, is working with Universal to launch a model-driven managed futures fund, which Aquantum will support in part in Germany from its Munich base.

Universal now has about 430 employees and €143bn assets in more than 1,000 investment mandates.

Universal Investment’s Bernd Vorbeck (pictured) said: “The building of the stakes is a clear signal from both businesses for the potential and sustainability of our business model.”

Berneberg’s Hans-Walter Peters added: “The continued success of Universal Investment as a unique platform for administration, risk management and insourcing for all asset classes made it crucial for us to increase our stake.”

Universal emphasised its independence remained untouched by the latest news.

The co-operation with LBBW in regards to institutional mandates and depot banking will also continue as before.

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