EUROPE – The asset management activities of the merged UniCredit and HVB are set to be centralised in Milan under Dario Frigerio (deletes reference to Matteo Perruccio).

The move is part of UniCredit’s planned €15.4bn takeover of its German peer, the largest ever in the European banking industry. The all-stock deal, which was officially announced today, must still be approved by shareholders from both banks.

UniCredit has owned fund firm Pioneer – €35bn of whose €135bn in assets under management are institutional – since 2000. Frigerio is global CEO of Pioneer and head of asset management and private banking.

If UniCredit succeeds in acquiring HVB, it will gain control of German fund group Activest. It has €61bn in AUM, of which €21bn of which are institutional.

In Germany, HVB also owns asset management boutique NordInvest (AUM: €4.6bn) and Indexchange, a provider of exchange traded funds. Through its ownership of Bank Austria, HVB is parent to Capital Invest, an Austrian fund company with AUM of €21bn, about half of which are institutional.

It is not clear how HVB’s asset management activities will be combined with Pioneer, which, apart from Asia and the US, is active in Germany, Ireland and eastern Europe.

However, the two banks said in a statement that HVB and Bank Austria would “continue to exist as fully operational banks in their current legal form and will retain their current brand names”.

Speaking at an afternoon news conference, UniCredit chief executive Alessandro Profumo added that the merged group’s asset management activities would be “kept geographically separate”.

If the merger goes through, Profumo will be the new entity’s chief executive, while HVB CEO Dieter Rampl will be chairman.

The two executives also confirmed that by 2008, 9,000 jobs would be shed at the merged entity, 2,000 of which would be in Germany. They did not say which divisions would be affected by the jobs cull.

The new entity would, at the start, have around 127,000 employees and balance sheet assets of close to €733bn.