BNP Paribas has strengthened its presence in the Italian market by acquiring the third-party custodian business for funds of hedge funds from RasBank, part of the Allianz Group. The deal will make the French banking group a leading service provider to funds of hedge funds in Italy, boosting assets under administration to EUR9.8bn.

The deal is expected to be completed at the end of October, subject to approval from the regulatory authorities and the agreement of RasBank's clients. BNP Paribas and RasBank say will make every effort to minimise client impact during the transition.

The 11 staff with RasBank's third-party fund of hedge funds business will relocate to BNP Paribas' premises in Milan over the coming months in line with the migration of client portfolios.

'The fund of hedge funds industry in Italy is growing rapidly, and the acquisition of the RasBank Banca Depositaria business, which covers 57 funds, was a very attractive opportunity to expand our presence in Italy,' says Mauro Dognini, deputy head of BNP Paribas Securities Services.

'BNP Paribas Securities Services now has more than 350 people employed in Milan and assets under custody in excess of EUR300bn. This acquisition is another major confirmation of the strong commitment of BNP Paribas to provide securities services to Italian institutional investors, and to asset managers and pension funds in particular.

Alessandro Gioffreda, general manager of BNP Paribas Securities Services in Milan, says: 'Once the clients have transitioned to our systems, the scope of services offered to them will greatly increase to include fund administration, hedge fund and forex execution and transfer agency services, providing clients with a truly integrated solution.

'On a global level the BNP Paribas alternative fund servicing business has grown steadily for many years across both onshore and offshore markets. Prior to this acquisition, BNP Paribas administered more than 330 funds of hedge funds globally with a value of EUR27bn.

Chris Adams, global product head of alternative funds at BNP Paribas Securities Services, says: 'The acquisition of RasBank's third party fund of hedge fund Depo Bank is in line with our alternative funds strategy of servicing both onshore and offshore funds. This transaction, bringing both high quality clients and highly capable staff, enhances BNP Paribas's leadership in Europe and increases the scope of our global offering.'

According to Allianz, RasBank will in future focus on its core business of offering retail clients a range of financial and insurance products and services through its financial advisor network. The bank had approximately 2,400 financial advisers and assets under management of more than EUR25bn at the end of last year.

BNP Paribas Securities Services has a local presence in all key European markets as well as in the US and Australasia. With 5,000 staff in 20 countries, the business has almost 900 clients, including eight of the world's top 10 investment managers, and a global custody network covering 91 markets. It held more than EUR3.9trn in assets under custody at the end of June and EUR 825bn of assets under administration for 6,125 funds worldwide.


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