GERMANY/AUSTRIA- Fortis Investment Management has raided BNP Paribas for a team to run new operations in Austria and Germany. FIM already has regulatory approval to market its funds in Austria and it is expecting to get the go-ahead in Germany in the next three weeks.

Josef Pfannenstill, previously BNP Paribas’s head of marketing and sales for eastern Europe, has been appointed to manage both the Vienna and Frankfurt offices.

Monika Reisinger, previously head of sales for Austria at BNP Paribas, will head the Vienna office while Ralf Bartl, former head of office management for central and eastern Europe, will run the back office operations for the two new offices.

Once FIM has finished its hiring, it will have a team of around eight covering the region. There are further plans to branch out and open offices in central European countries. “Our strategy is to have local sales teams- it’s vital to have teams that speak the mother tongue,” says Pfannenstill.

Austria and Germany are virgin territory for Fortis which claims that the region is becoming more receptive to overseas investment managers.

“One of the major targets for FIM as an independent asset manager is to target institutional and private investors through distribution channels in Austria, Germany and central Europe,” says Pfannenstill.

Explaining the expansion, he says: “it’s a huge market for institutional investors and for fund of funds and it has become more open for international fund managers.”

Austria’s fund of fund market has grown to its present e17bn, of which 30% is now run by foreign managers. For Germany, the corresponding figures are e25bn of which a fifth is foreign-run.

FIM will initially target the fund of funds managers and try to get them to take on the Fortis brand. It will also target the IFA an retail market and next year will target pension funds and corporates directly.

The investment management arm of Fortis Bank, Fortis IM now manages around e72bn in funds.