GERMANY - The German arm of BNP Paribas Asset Management has named Ilona Wachter as its new institutional business head, effective from last December 1.

Wachter, 40, replaces Axel Grosskreutz, who is leaving to join the German arm of Credit Suisse Asset Management as its new head, on January 2. Wachter joined BNP Paribas AM in Germany in early 2005 as director of institutional relationships.

BNP Paribas also said Wachter and Josef Altmann, who is in charge of fund distribution, would co-head the German unit. Since entering the German institutional market in 1994, BNP Paribas AM has racked up around €3.5bn in assets. About 30% of the volume is from pension funds.

According to Wachter, BNP Paribas' specialties for the market include currency overlay management, global fixed income and exchange traded funds (ETFs).

Separately, German private bank Hauck & Aufhäuser said it had cut its stake in Universal-Investment, a leading German fund administrator based in Frankfurt, to 17.9% from 36.5%.

Hauck & Aufhäuser said the move was partly motivated by the fact that it already had a Luxembourg-based fund company. "Our strategy is to better diversify our asset management business," said Alfred Juncker, head of asset management at the Munich-based private bank.

The 18.6% stake was split between three other shareholders in Universal, include private banks Berenberg, Bankhaus Lampe as well as the state-owned Landesbank Baden-Württemberg. Universal's fifth shareholder is the private bank Merck Finck & Co, which maintained its stake at 8.5%.

Hauck & Aufhäuser said it had fetched a "fair price" for its stake but did not elaborate.  Juncker also noted that Hauck & Aufhäuser was unwilling to sell part of its exposure to Universal to a big German bank or insurer for fear of damaging the independence of the fund administrator.

Universal is one of Germany's leading fund administrators, with €65bn under administration. It is also Germany's market leader in so-called ‘master funds'.

A master fund enables an institutional investor to centralise back-office administration of his funds - for example reporting and risk monitoring. Claimed benefits for the investor are greater transparency and reduced cost.

In a related event, Metzler Asset Management, another of Germany's big master fund providers, said its assets under management had surpassed the €30bn mark on November 30.

Nearly €20bn of that volume were managed in master funds, it said.