ITALY - Eurizon Capital, the asset management business of Intesa Sanpaolo, has secured another mandate from an existing blue-chip clients to manage the Eurofer railway workers' scheme, at the same time as holding on the fixed-income portfolio it runs for Fonchim, the Italian chemical workers' pension scheme.

Eurofer had 32,000 members and more than €211m under management at the end of 2006. The scheme, according to the Italian pensions commission Covip, has a potential pool of 110,000 workers.

Eurizon will manage a portfolio of equity assets meeting the scheme's ethical criteria.

Perhaps more importantly, the firm has been appointed to manage part of Eurofer's equity portfolio for six years - suggesting a new trend could be in place with pension funds giving managers longer mandates.

In recent years, Eurizon has secured other long-term mandates with the Previcooper scheme, for instance, which gave the asset manager a 10-year mandate., according to Marco Avonto, in charge of institutional asset management at Eurizon.

"We are seeing clients shifting to a vision which is more inclined to be long-term," said Avonto.

"While short-term concerns are inevitable, these should be limited and there's a will to set up relationships with managers that are more likely to last for longer, especially where mandates are confirmed."

Avonto also suggested Italian fund directors are starting to recognise the added-value of specialised asset managers, as is the case with Fonchim, for which Eurizon has managed a fixed-income portfolio for a number of years. (See earlier IPE story: Fonchim expands manager base on asset growth)

"Funds are looking for more specialised managers that can see off the sharp market volatility seen recently," added Avonto.