FRANCE - French asset managers saw the volume of assets managed on behalf of European institutional investors fall by more than 12.3% over the last 12 months, according to IPE's Top 400 Asset Managers 2012 survey.

The IPE ranking shows that French asset managers held €795.3bn of assets on behalf of European institutional investors as at 31 December 2011, against €893.3bn at the end of 2010.

Amundi - which reported an increase in European institutional business, jumping from €182bn in 2010 to €210bn in 2011 - said it had attracted some "interesting" mandates in recent months in Italy, Germany and France.

Laurent Bertiau, deputy head of the institutional investment division in charge of marketing, said Italy was a particularly attractive market for Amundi, which currently manages a diversified mandate and a number of volatility strategy mandates on behalf of institutional investors in the country.

Bertiau also cited the impact of Europe's falling equity markets in recent months.

"In 2011, we obviously suffered from the sovereign debt crisis, but successes in products and marketing mitigated its impact, with institutional investor inflows of €3.1bn, mainly into sovereign funds," he said. 

Another French manager, AXA Investment Managers (AXA IM), saw its overall AUM remain stable, although institutional assets fall in IPE's Top 120 European Institutional Managers ranking due to a requalification of assets.

The company recorded a drop of €24.2bn in assets managed on behalf of European institutional investors, falling from €109bn in 2010 to €84.8bn in 2011, as €24.2bn of assets were "requalified" as retail assets, according to AXA IM.

Like Amundi however, AXA IM said it continued to see demand from institutionals in Europe, and that there was still much market share to be won, with Germany and the UK the main targets.

Joseph Pinto, the member of the management board in charge of overseeing the company's market and investment strategy, said it would continue to grow in those markets and expand in the Netherlands and Switzerland, where the pensions business offers a number of "interesting" opportunities.

Meanwhile, Lyxor Asset Management's European institutional assets fell by 36% year on year, with the company citing increasingly difficult market conditions.

Christophe Baurand, global head of business development, said: "As a specialised asset manager focusing on beta and alternative alpha products, our model is sensitive to equity markets movements.

"Investors tend to withdraw from equities in tougher market conditions, with indexing products particularly suffering natural falls in assets as a result of performance drawdown."

He said Lyxor was looking for new opportunities in Northern Europe, which had been less affected by the euro crisis, and where "investable cash was important" and risk aversion lower than in other parts of Europe.

The company is also looking further afield at new markets, he added.

"In the last two years, Lyxor has enhanced its business and commercial presence in the growth markets of Asia, where we are present through a joint venture in China and a team of six institutional sales professionals located in Japan, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong," he said.