GLOBAL – ABN Amro says it will consider “bolt-on” asset management acquisitions.

“In expanding our business we remain focused on organic growth, although we will consider bolt-on acquisitions where appropriate,” it said in its 2005 annual report released today, in a discussion of the asset management business unit’s initiatives for 2006.

The comments follow Sarah Russell’s taking the helm at the unit at the end of January from Huibert Boumeester.

Although the group raised its assets under management by 9.6% to €176.2bn at the end of 2005, it accounts for less than 5% of group operating profit before tax.

There has been an increase in acquisition activity in the market recently, with BlackRock taking on Merrill Lynch Investment Managers and Legg Mason taking the asset management arm of Citigroup.

The bank said it would also launch several new sustainability funds over the next two years, in Sweden, Brazil, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.

“We will also focus more on our multi-manager capabilities and our structured products, many of which are perceived as being technologically advanced.”

The report also revealed the bank plans to put almost €600m into its DB schemes this year.

“The group’s expected contribution to be paid to defined benefit pension schemes in 2006 is €598m,” the bank said.

It runs 58 DB schemes, whose asset value has risen to €10.2bn from €8.75bn at the end of 2004.

Elsewhere, rival ING Group has said it would launch life insurance operations in Bulgaria after receiving a license from the relevant insurance supervisory authorities.

It said: “The business will be operated as a branch of ING's existing life insurance company in Hungary, making use of the available expertise.” It would be located in Sofia and headed by Nikolay Stoykov, who will continue as general manager of ING's Bulgarian pension fund.