EUROPE - Michael Atzwanger is to step down as managing director of Italy's PensPlan, where he has worked for more than decade.

His last day at PensPlan - a pension fund service provider for some of Italy's smaller regions - will be 11 November.

He is expected to join the three-member board of Alpenbank, a private banking and institutional asset management company based in Austria, on 1 December.

Atzwanger, who will be based in Italy, will be responsible for spearheading the bank's expansion plans in the local market, but he said he hoped to maintain his close relationship with the Italian pension fund sector.

"I have spent an amazing 10 years at PensPlan, and I felt it was time to move on, but I still plan to be involved in the pensions fund side of things in Italy," he said.

"For example, I still plan to remain on the board of Assogestioni (the association of Italian asset managers), and I will also continue to support the PensPlan project, so things haven't changed as much as they might seem."

He added that he was currently working with PensPlan to find his successor.

During his tenure at PensPlan, Atzwanger was instrumental in forging a unique cross-border alliance in October 2008 with Dutch pension administrator and asset management company APG Group.

Under the terms of the deal, which initially saw APG manage about €100m in assets for PensPlan, both parties signed a letter of intent to improve the performance of Italy's second-pillar pension funds.

The agreement was the first ever cross-border between a Dutch pension asset manager and an external player.