ASW - the Dutch fund management arm of the Dutch Housing Trust in Huizen near Amsterdam - has awarded a $40m US equities mandate to Putnam Institutional Management.

Previously the business was handled by State Street but, according to Ronald Nagel, ASW's head of investments: We decided not to renew with State Street for performance reasons. So we did a search of 15 US external managers and shortlisted five."

The Dutch Housing Trust represents 650 housing associations in the Netherlands and it has a $1.6bn pension fund managed by ASW on a global portfolio with some DFl3bn ($6.2bn) in custody with Bankers Trust in Edinburgh who have handled the business for three years.

Nagel says: "We have two external managers in the US. We only ever use regional managers based in the countries in which we invest, in-cluding one in Europe and another in the Far East in Tokyo. Next year we shall be seeking to award another mandate for performance reasons, but I don't want to talk about that now."

Forty-three per cent of ASW's portfolio goes into equities, 13% of which is in-vested in the US. Nagel ex-plains that he was attracted to Putnam's investment style which was: "A mixture of the qualitative and the quantitative. They are not growth or value managers exactly, but somewhere in between. but more on the side of growth."

Nagel observes that Putnam's 'core equity product' consists of "larger US firms, not small caps" and he says that the investment group was able "to accurately select some 200 growth companies from an original list of 500 to offer us an average market cap with growth elements, aiming for a performance of 250 to 300 basis points above the alpha benchmark - before management fees".

The Dutch Housing Trust is, he says, developing a long term investment strategy for global investment which is becoming increasingly performance oriented."