EUROPE - Allianz Global Investors (AGI) today announced an increase in third party assets under management of 5.2% for 2006, amounting to €37bn.

Equity inflows are now positive, with an increase of 4.1% against AUM after outflows in both 2004 and 2005. Marna Whittington, AGI's COO, attributed the increase to improving equity performance.

The company said 70% of equity assets now outperformed their benchmark on a three year rolling basis - an increase from 43% in 2004.

However, last year's third party asset growth was down from €66bn in 2005, which Whittington described as an exceptional year. Currency depreciation nevertheless masked a 12% increase in US third party AUM and 25% growth in Asia-Pacific.

Total third party assets under management were €723bn at the end of 2006, up from €707 the previous year. Group assets under management - including in-house insurance assets - now total €972bn and operating profits were up 14% to €1.28bn.

Although Germany still accounts for more than half of the €452 in European AUM, French asset growth was larger than that in Germany, AGI's CEO Dr Joachim Faber said.

Andreas Utermann, CIO at RCM, which manages around 75% of AGI's equity assets, told IPE that the company was working on so-called ‘long extension' products - also known as 130/30 strategies.

Making use of the increased powers granted to fund managers in UCITS III, these products enable asset managers to short a proportion of stocks in their portfolio - frequently around 30% - in order to achieve higher alpha for a moderate increase in tracking error.

Apart from RCM, AGI's asset management companies include PIMCO, NFJ Investment Group, Nicolas-Applegate and Oppenheimer Capital. The company last year announced its intention to merge its German institutional and retail units, dbi and dit, under the AGI name.