Local managers up market share in Italy


As the list of top international funds houses in Milan grows longer, so the local management landscape is changing.

As the list of top international funds houses in Milan grows longer,
so the local management landscape is changing.

"It is a good sign that there is so much competition now in Italy between the funds houses, both international and local," says Luca Tenani (pictured), Schroders' head of distribution in Italy.

The increasing level of competition comes as no surprise. On the one hand, Italy has one of the highest saving rates in Europe; on the other, investors are looking for blue-chip names with a reputation for top-performing funds.

The lacklustre performance of the domestic asset managers has invariably been ascribed to the banking and insurance groups, who have historically owned or controlled the majority of the asset managers in Italy.

The crisis has demonstrated that this ownership model has not benefited the asset managers who, as a result, have been able to provide clients with only mediocre returns.

Calls for the banking and insurance groups to dispose of their asset managers have come from a number of quarters, including Mario Draghi, the governor of the Bank of Italy, who has argued strongly for a separation of production from distribution.

With the banking and insurance groups under pressure from Basel III, capital adequacy requirements to dispose of non-core assets, the asset management industry has seen the beginnings of a rejuvenation.

A number of launches and mergers have created a new generation of asset managers, launched to offer pure asset management or absolute return investment skills.

Gap in the market

Anthilia Capital, a manager with more than €450m in assets, was launched in the midst of the global financial crisis, in August 2008, by a group of fund managers disillusioned by their experience of large banking groups, and who saw a gap in the market for an independent, total-return type fund manager.

AcomeA, with €600m in assets, emerged in July 2010 from insurance group Fondiaria-Sai, also to focus on pure asset management.

Azimut, the country's leading independent asset manager with €15bn AUM, this year has made two acquisitions (Compagnie de Gestion Privée Monegasque and Lugano-based Katarsis Capital) and signed a deal with Swiss advisory firm Siqurgest for advisory services and the distribution of its funds in Switzerland.

UBI Banca, too, has sold its alternative funds business to the newly formed Tages Group. The founder of Tages is Panfilo Tarantelli, who during a 30-year career in London became head of Schroders' investment banking division and subsequently vice-chairman of Citigroup Europe.

This year, he decided to return to his native Italy, because the laws and taxes that had long disadvantaged the asset management sector in the country were finally being harmonised with the rest of Europe, presenting him with a rare opportunity to launch his own business on a ‘level playing field'.