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Wednesday, 17th April 2024
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Boost for investment sector as KBC moves over €2 bn assets to Dublin Back  
Dublin is to become a ‘centre of excellence’ for the KBC Group, as it transfers over E2 billion of assets to be managed by KBC Asset Management (KBCAM).
KBC Bank is in the process of moving an active equity portfolio of assets worth some E2.25 billion from its Belgian asset management company, KBC Asset Management NV, which currently has some E55 billion of assets under management, to be managed in Dublin by KBCAM, which currently has assets of E6.8 billion under management.

KBC are currently mid-way through the process and have already transferred approximately E850 million of assets. They expect to complete the transaction by the end of the year.

The bulk of KBC Asset Management NV’s assets in retail funds, and its expertise is in selling structured and capital guaranteed products. In 2000 KBC bought Ulster Bank Investment Managers to get a foothold into the institutional market, as well as to acquire active equity management expertise, and according to Sean Hawkshaw, chief operating officer with KBCAM, it is as a result of KBCAM’s expertise in active equity management that the funds are being transferred.

The team which previously managed the 20 underlying funds, are to transfer from Brussels to Dublin, and some of KBCAM’s staff have been transferred to manage the new funds. The portfolio will be managed in line with Belgian requirements, and Hawkshaw sees it as a great opportunity for KBCAM staff to get more experience in adopting a quantitative approach to fund management, rather than their traditional qualitative approach.
KBC have also transferred their hedge fund portfolio, which has an asset value of approximately E250 million, to Dublin to be managed. One Belgian fund manager has moved with the funds, and KBC are currently building up a team to work with him, as they have plans to launch more hedge funds out of Dublin, which will be sold mainly through KBC Bank.

According to Hawkshaw, part of the rationale for moving the funds to Dublin is the fact that there is a growing pool of expertise in hedge fund management and administration in Dublin, and it will become a centre of excellence for the group.

As well as being a vote of confidence in KBCAM’s asset management expertise, Hawkshaw also sees the move as a boost to the sector at large. He says that it is a further indication of Ireland growing as a centre for fund management, and that Dublin is now developing a pool of expertise in the area.

Asset management has been earmarked by the Government as a sector that should be promoted, bringing as it does front-office jobs to Ireland. In 2001 the funds group of the Taoiseach’s IFSC Clearing House Group set up an asset management sub-group, which is chaired by Gavin Caldwell, chief executive of KBCAM, to look at ways of developing the sector. To date, the biggest entrant into Dublin has been Pioneer Investments, but last year Fideuram, a subsidiary of Italian financial services group San Paulo IMI Group, also set up.

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