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Capital, Italian Bank Team to Offer Funds

Securities: Partnership reflects U.S. companies' desire to expand their presence in Europe.

September 10, 1997|From Bloomberg News

Los Angeles-based Capital Group Cos., one of America's biggest money management firms, plans to team with Italy's sixth- biggest bank to offer investment funds in that country.

The partnership calls for Capital Group and Credito Italiano to jointly market and manage mutual funds and pension funds, bank officials said. The details of the agreement are expected to be announced today.

Credit Rolo Gestioni, a unit of Credito Italiano, is one of Italy's biggest money management firms, with about $25 billion in assets. Gesticredit, as it is known, manages and distributes mutual funds for Credito Italiano.

The expected alliance between Capital Group and Credito Italiano is part of a continuing trend of U.S. firms looking to increase their presence in Europe and Asia by forming joint ventures, analysts said.

"It's difficult for U.S. fund groups to succeed on their own overseas," said Geoff Bobroff, an industry consultant in East Greenwich, R.I. "It's a different marketplace, and you can achieve greater success through joint ventures."

Capital Group's international affiliate is Capital International Inc., which oversees more than $12 billion in assets. Capital International is based in the United States and has offices worldwide, including in London and Geneva.

Capital Group is best known for managing the American Funds, a group of 28 mutual funds that oversees more than $175 billion in assets. Officials at Capital Group declined to comment about the pending alliance with Credito Italiano.

Italy is one of Europe's more attractive markets since the passage of legislation in 1995 that included provisions aimed at stimulating the development of private pension funds.

"Italy's mutual fund business is among the fastest-growing in Europe, and many U.S. companies are looking to create alliances there," said Michael Lipper, president of research firm Lipper Analytical Services Inc.

Putnam Investments, a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Cos., joined with Gruppo Bipop, a financial services company in northern Italy, to form a mutual fund company, Cisalpina Gestioni. The company, which was formed in late 1995, managed about $835 million in assets at the end of July. Boston-based Putnam owns about 20% of Cisalpina Gestioni.

In another arrangement, Merrill Lynch & Co., the biggest U.S. securities firm, has a money management marketing agreement with Prime Gestioni, a unit of Assicurazioni Generali, Italy's largest insurer.

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