EUROPE - Dexia Asset Management, which recently unveiled its new office in London, is now seeking to grow the UK team despite the fact the company is in the process of being sold.

According to chief executive Naim Abou-Jaoude, opening a London branch had been a long-term goal for the company and a strategic objective for this year.

He described the UK as "an open and diverse market, central to the fund management industry in Europe".

He also pointed out that Dexia AM's "client-centric approach and broad diversification" had allowed it to remain profitable.

Macquarie is reportedly on the verge of acquiring Dexia AM, after it bought the asset management arm of Siemens Austria - Innovest - back in 2010.

At the time, Macquarie said it wanted to support Innovest - which had €3.5bn of assets under management - in expanding its business in Germany, Austria and other European markets, as part of Macquarie's global network.

According to the latest data from IPE's Top 400 Asset Managers ranking, which will be released in June, Macquarie had €247.3bn of assets under management as of 31 December 2011.

David Kane, head of Dexia's UK branch, told IPE the company had been developing its business in the region for the last five years, focusing mainly on core practice distribution.

"Our ambition is to continue to develop our distribution partnerships with both local and global fund-selection units based in London and Dublin over the coming months," he said.

"Our primary short-term focus is the third-party distribution market, where we have an existing client base. But targeting pension fund clients remains a focus for the mid to long term."

Dexia AM is now looking to hire a senior relationship manager with 5-7 years' experience to assist Kane, currently the only member of the London team.

"We are seeking to recruit someone before the end of this year," Kane said. "From there, we will then grow the team over the course of the next 12 months."