ITALY- BNP Paribas Group has partnered with Mediobanca and Mediolanum’s Duemme Hedge to launch a fund of hedge funds targeting small pension funds and individual investors.

BNP Paribas Selezione Hedge, launched this month, is the result of two years of negotiation between the French group and the Italian Esperia Group, the private banking arm of Mediolanum and Mediobanca.

BNP Paribas Selezione Hedge products are aimed at individual investors, but could also appeal to small pension funds, said Bernard Dennery, head of BNP Paribas Fauchier Partners.

The fund of funds are going to be sold by BNP Paribas and managed by Duemme, which will have BNP Paribas Fauchier Partners as advisors.

“The aim is to combine Duemme Hedge’s know-how and managerial abilities with the BNP Paribas Group’s advisory and distribution abilities,” said Ignazio Basile, managing director of Duemme Hedge.

The new fund of hedge funds aims to reduce volatility with diversification, BNP Paribas said. “This signifies the constant search for an optimal mix of strategies and, within the framework of each strategy, of a selected group of mutually non-correlated hedge fund managers.”

The French group partnered with Duemme as Italian law forbids hedge funds companies with no subsidiaries in the country to be present in the hedge fund market.

BNP Paribas chose Duemme because the two companies have a similar investing mentality and attitude, Juliet Benoit of BNP Asset Management told IPE.

“This partnership was prompted by the strong growth of the funds of hedge funds market in Italy, combined with the goal of joining the market leaders,” said Marco Barbaro, general manager of BNP Paribas Asset Management.

Meanwhile, the Italian press has reported that prime minister and interim finance minister ad interim Silvio Berlusconi has told delegates of the Italian Banks Association that the government will ask the parliament’s vote of confidence on the pension reform.