SWITZERLAND - Bank of Ireland Asset Management says it has obtained approval for the sale in Switzerland of four equity funds targeted to small institutional clients and wealthy private clients.

BIAM’s mutual funds will be offered to Swiss investors via the private bank Mees Pierson and Citco, a clearing and settlement company with business ties to other Swiss banks and brokers. The minimum investment required for the funds is 15,000 Swiss francs (9,600 euros), and BIAM said the small institutional clients it was targeting were primarily fund managers.

Robert Hau, head of continental Europe at BIAM, said that after winning several investment mandates from big Swiss institutional clients, the asset manager aimed to duplicate this feat among smaller ones. Hau did not, though, give any projections on how much volume he thought the funds would generate in Switzerland.

The products include a global equity fund, a North American equity fund, an Asian equity fund and a European equity fund. All are benchmarked to the MSCI indexes relevant to the regions they invest in and all follow a “bottom-up” approach to stock investing. So far, only the North American fund has outperformed its benchmark.

Since their creation in July 2000, the funds have taken in $59m, with the global and North American fund accounting for 80% of that volume.

Last week BIAM named Leona Nicholson as deputy chief investment officer. The move followed the resignation of four members of the team to join Perpetual Trustees Australia.

“While it is always regrettable to see colleagues depart, BIAM is uniquely positioned in the strength of its brand, its excellent global reputation and the tremendous strength in depth of its 21-strong asset management team,“ said Denis Donovan, chairman of Bank of Ireland Asset Management Services Ltd.