GERMANY – Hewitt Associates is considering raising its minority stake in the BodeHewitt joint venture it launched almost a year ago with Bode Grabner Beye.

The news comes as it emerged today that Christoph and Joachim Bode have left the Munich-based actuarial and benefits consultancy. They were managing directors at the venture and sons of founder Karl-Josef Bode.

Hewitt told IPE that it is in talks with German bank HVB regarding the issue. Hewitt has a 27.25% stake in the venture, while HVB has the rest. HVB was taken over last year by Italian banking giant UniCredit and may be looking to rationalise its holdings.

HVB announced that Christoph and Joachim Bode had “left the company of their own volition”.

“During their 15 years at the company, Christoph and Joachim Bode, along with their colleagues on the board, elevated Bode to one of Germany’s leading advisors in the corporate pensions industry,” said Heinz Laber, head of BodeHewitt’s supervisory board.

Laber added that while the venture regretted the Bode brothers’ departure, “we fully understand the reasons for it and wish them well”.

The brothers’ father Karl-Josef built the eponymous Munich consultancy but ceded ownership of it to HVB in 1999. It was not clear if the father was still a part of BodeHewitt’s supervisory board, and Christoph Bode could not be reached for further comment.

Beyond Munich, BodeHewitt has offices in Stuttgart and in Wiesbaden. In Munich, the Bode brothers’ co-managed the venture with Rainer Goldbach, Georg Thurnes and Olaf Petersen.

Well-placed industry sources told IPE that the abrupt departure of the Bode brothers was “extremely positive” for Hewitt’s ambitions in Germany.

“The removal of the brothers represents a giant leap for Hewitt in Germany. It should enable it to become a major player in the market,” the sources, who asked not to be named, said.

The shake-up at BodeHewitt comes almost a year after Hewitt formally launched its joint venture with Bode Grabner Beye.

The venture was set up to offer full occupational pensions consulting to domestic and international firms in Germany. The services included benefits advice, investment consulting and pensions administration.

In August 2005, BodeHewitt won its first high-profile mandate from German technology giant Siemens, replacing incumbent Mercer.

Under the mandate, BodeHewitt is advising Siemens on the operation of its company pension plans and similar deferred benefits, with regard to labour, tax and trade law issues.