UK- Fortis Investments has hired a team of four European Small Caps investment managers from ING’s subsidiary Baring Asset Management, as it seeks expertise in the class that it says will “thrive”.

The newly-hired managers are Maria Polycarpou, Sascha Hirsch, Silvia Wendlinger and analyst Sam Cosh, all still working at Barings, will join the replace the two managers currently working in Paris on small cap products.

The two managers will be now given ”other opportunities” within the company, William De Vijlder, global chief investment officer, told IPE.

The decision to boost the investment activities in London, one of company’s “financial centres”, could also have “positive influences” on sales, he said.

The group-recruitment is the latest in a string of appointments described by De Vijlder as a “significant recruitment effort”. This appointment, however, might be the last for some time, he said, adding “ but we always keep our eyes open.”

“In the course of the years, we have built a structure where we have excellent expertise with every sort of products we are involved with” he also said.

The four managers, headed by Polycarpou, join a global fixed income team and a high-yield team, to constitute Fortis Investments’ European small cap investments team.

“ We have decided to boost our expertise in that area, because looking at the way investors and consultants behave, we think this asset class will thrive”

“This recruitment of highly ranked investment professionals propels our European small cap capability into the first division. This will help us to realise our ambitious growth targets” he said.

Fortis Investments has 170 investment managers globally and €82 bn euros of assets under management. “The bulk of that is in Europe” said De Vijlder.

Confirming the hiring of the four experts, a spokeswoman for Baring said it was the first time the asset manager faced such a group defection but added the team leader, Susannah Lloyd would be shortly recruiting new managers.

“Many have shown an interest to work for Barings “ she said. She also explained that no date has yet been fixed for the team to leave Baring.