The recent merger in France of the giant public finance operators CDC Gestion and CDC Trésor into CDC Asset Management Europe is set to launch the group as a major actor in the European investment management market, with the aim of managing a FF1trn by the year 2000," according to Daniel Roy, president of the newly formed organisation.

With around Ffr860bn ($143bn) of assets already managed for about 300 clients, CDC AM is the largest institutional investment manager in France and among the 15 largest in Europe. The amalgamation of the group has come about in reaction to the impending approach of the Euro and its effects on future European investment management.

Roy believes their anticipation of EMU development will set them out from the crowd: "Very few organisations have managed to get together any sort of integration over the whole 'euro sector' and beyond, which is where the future lies," he says.

"At CDC, we have a fundamental domestic investment policy that is allied closely to global markets, in-luding maritime and new world in-vestment as well as in emerging markets such as Eastern Europe. We were also the first group in France to adopt AIMR performance standards in our continuing quest to satisfy our clients with a bill of excellence and transparency," he adds.

Roy identified potential new markets for CDC such as Germany, where they are already selling experience of professional management, and southern Europe where negotiations were presently under way for 'considerable' investment opportunities. However, on a international scale, he advocated a future in alliances with overseas companies in the US and Japan as the way forward. These, he pointed out, were already being negociated by their CDC AM Americas and CDC AM Asia branches to enable meeting the increasing global investment demands of their clients.

Commenting on the merger, Frederic Jolly, managing director of Frank Russell, continental Europe, says: "The proof of any future success for CDC Asset Management will lie in their ability to operate independently from the French authorities as a profit driven, capitalistic organisation, which remains of course to be seen.

"They must also ensure any developed products by their existing clients in France such as the Caisse Nationale de Prévoyance fall into their hands, whilst ensuring successful operation on a European level."

He stressed however, that CDC had succeeded in operating very independently in the past from its shareholders.

"The potential is there for them to become a major investment leader in Europe and I think they will overcome any complications if they do arise," he adds. Hugh Wheelan"