Europe witnessed a spate of takeovers and co-operation discussions last month with many of the protagonists citing the need to establish a global asset management presence as a prime or at least key motive.

In Germany, Dresdner Bank confirmed its participation in talks with Allianz, focusing on ways to co-operate in the field of asset management in Europe and beyond.

Dresdner's chief executive designate, Bernhard Walter said that when assets where combined, the two groups would be among the top global players with about DM 700 bn ($405.2bn) under management.

Allianz is currently bidding to become Europe's largest insurer by offering DM18 bn ($10.4bn) for French insurer Assurances Generale de France (AGF). The offer of FFr320 per share tops a previous hostile bid of FFr300 per share by Italy's Generali.

US investment bank Merrill Lynch announced the $3.1bn takeover of Mercury Asset Management (MAM), paying a 32% premium. Combined funds under management will be $450bn.

MAM will continue to trade under its own name in the UK, but its international asset management business also centred in London will trade under the name Merrill Lynch Mercury Asset Management.

Dutch group ING is buying Belgian Bank Brussels Lambert (BBL). The total bid is worth DFl 9bn ($4.6). The acquisition makes ING Europe's 12th largest bank. Total assets under management of the combined group will be DFl 357bn ($183bn).

LGT Asset Management which manages about $65bn has been put on the market by its owner Prince Philipp of Liechtenstein and could raise $2bn.

Dresdner, this month received final legal approval from various jurisdictions worldwide, for the set up of Dresdner RCM Global Investors, the global asset management business formed by the integration of San Francisco-based RCM Capital Management, the London and Tokyo asset management business of Kleinwort Benson, the London and Hong Kong-based business of Thornton & Co and Paris-based BIP Gestion. John Lappin