UK – Pension fund manager Hermes, the investment company for both the BT and Post Office schemes, has appointed German corporate finance specialist Stephan Howaldt to head up its new European focus funds company (HEFF).

The new company plans to invest client funds in under-performing continental European companies and to conduct relational shareholder programmes.

Howaldt joins as chief executive on March 1 and will be based in London, working alongside Hermes' UK Focus Funds management team.

He worked in Germany in corporate finance and consulting before joining UBS Warburg in London in 1994 and currently works in New York with Siemens.

" Stephan's skills and experience are ideal for this role," says Peter Butler, Hermes Focus Funds chief executive.
" He will be a catalyst for change in under-performing companies. We are confident he is the man to adapt our successful UK approach to be effective in continental European markets."

HEFF expects to launch the European fund later this year with a target size of e1bn over the next few years.

The company is also looking to recruit an investment director and a European corporate governance specialist to support HEFF and to take responsibility for voting Hermes' clients' index tracking and active fund holdings in Europe.