Pioneer forges €100bn unit through fund-of-funds and multi-asset merger

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Pioneer Investments is headquartered in Milan

The addition of nine alternatives specialists will increase the size of Pioneer’s multi-asset division to 85. The funds of alternative funds team continues to be led by London-based Richard Berger and will work alongside Pioneer’s long-only fund-of-funds team, which is managed by John O’Toole.

Taken together, the long-only and alternatives fund-of-funds teams manage €50 billion.

Berger and O’Toole report to Milan-based Matteo Germano, who oversees the multi-asset group, according to a spokeswoman. Berger previously reported to Pioneer chief executive Giordano Lombardo.

The spokeswoman said in a statement that O’Toole had already started to work closely with Berger: “That’s an endorsement of the current trend we see in the industry – the convergence of alternative and traditional techniques and products.” She said its multi-asset team had seen inflows totalling $ 2.4 billion in the year to date.

The fund-of-funds restructuring has also involved Gabriel Altbach, who has the dual role of head of global strategy and marketing.

The spokeswoman denied the move had been made to cut costs. However, the fund-of-alternative-funds sector is far smaller than some years ago.

Pioneer’s move is part of a trend where managers are seeking to rationalise business as inflows into active funds continue to fall away, and cheap passive funds become increasingly popular.

On September 27, Amundi confirmed the merger of its real asset and alternative strategies into one platform. The four-way merger of Baring Asset Management, Babson Capital, Wood Creek and Cornerstone, owned by MassMutual, was finalised on September 12. The latter two managers are alternatives specialists.

Brexit is another issue behind strategy reviews in the UK. Asset managers also want to break up marketing siloes to improve their opportunities of winning, and retaining, business.

Elsewhere, asset managers are appointing strategists to help them come to terms with a challenging period. Aberdeen Asset Management has appointed Gordon Neilly to head up its strategy, while Schroders has poached Huw van Steenis, a former bank analyst from Morgan Stanley.

According to recruitment specialists, at least four large asset managers are seeking to make global strategic appointments. Others want input on technology. At the start of 2016, UK insurer Prudential appointed Al-Noor Ramji as chief digital officer, to develop a tech strategy across the group, including asset management. He was previously at Northgate Capital, where he managed technology-based ventures.

Pioneer’s multi-asset merger also comes as the asset manager, which has been put up for sale by UniCredit, continues to look for a buyer. Amundi, Generali and a Poste Italiane consortium have lodged interest in a bidding process.

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