Azimut: From local to global player
Launched at the beginning of 1988 within Banca Akros and independent since 2001,Azimut Holding, widely known as just Azimut, continues to go global.
In the Italian asset management industry, which has traditionallybeen dominated by banks, building a successful independent asset manager is a challenge itself.
But in Azimut’s case it looks like it managed to grow the business from a small player to a global one with €33.1bn
AUM as of the beginning of April, and a presence in almost all continents.
After being active for some 15 years, the group floated on the Italian stock exchange in 2004. It currently employs
some 1,000 managers, employees and financial advisers who have been directly involved in the Azimut Holding shareholder structure since the IPO.
The company is both a fund manufacturer and a portfolio management/advisory services business.
Under the leadership of CEO and chairman Pietro Giuliani since 1990, Azimut has developed quite a complex structure which sees it present through a number of subsidiaries, acquisitions and distribution agreements in Italy, Luxembourg, Ireland, Switzerland, Monaco and Turkey in Europe as well as Brazil and Mexico in Central and Latin America, and China, Singapore, Taiwan and Australia in Asia and Oceania.
Apart from a number of manufacturer centres and fund selection and multi-manager teams, Azimut can count on
a network of some 1,550 financial advisers which provide wealth management type services.
A further line of business is that of insurance policies offered through the company in Dublin. More recently, Azimut has ventured into the alternatives sphere by investing in private equity and venture capital activities.
“We are about to launch a mini-bond fund with Antares and we invested in P101 – venture capital fund – which
are both part of our project to support the recovery of the real economy by supporting local SMEs,” says managing
director Paola Mungo.
She explains that the group’s growth beyond the national border aimed to identify potential new asset management markets which could offer scope for growth.
Brazil and Turkey offered the opportunity of markets with a growing middle class and a relatively small domestic asset management sector, in which a group like Azimut could offer value. “It felt like being in Italy some 30 years ago, when the industry was just about to start. We felt that we could add value to those industries and we were right,” says Mungo.
Mungo, who has seen the group also acquire a stake recently in a Mexican independent asset management distribution company, says that local companies and asset managers have to be in tune with Azimut’s DNA which thrive on entrepreneurship and independence as the pivotal points of its investment philosophy.
She further adds that product innovation is an essential part ofthe company’s business development plan.
“Also two of the latest products we launched tell this story. The first one is called AZ Real Plusa fund of the AZ Fund 1 range which invests in Brazilian government bonds and monetary instruments based on short term local interest rates and offering exposure on the Brazilian Real.”
“The second one ventures into a new field for Azimut and it is called AZ Sustainable Absolute Return. Like the name suggests, the fund invests according to ESG criteria and was developed in partnership with Notenstein Private Bank.
“Basically we use the ESG filter to invest in global equities with an absolute return approach.”
Looking ahead through 2015, Mungo says that Azimut will continue to consolidate its presence in those countries where it is already present, and is looking to countries that offer similar opportunities to Turkey and Brazil.
“At home, we’ll focus on growing our distribution
network by keeping hiring talented advisers,” she concludes.