ITALY- Arca SGR, the asset management arm of a group of banks, has become the second company in Italy to receive an ‘AM2’ asset management rating by Fitch.

Arca has been awarded Fitch Rating's second highest grade for asset managers after UniCredito’s Pioneer Investment Management.

The agency has based its judgement on five criteria: structure, independence and controls, communication, investment and risk management.

Arca manages 38 billion euros, 30% of which was for institutional investors such as pension funds, foundations and insurance companies.

Arca also manages assets on behalf of other managers, and this aspect is a ‘big share’ of the institutional business, a spokesperson for Arca told IPE.

It manages assets of the regional pension fund, Fondo Pensione Solidarieta’ Veneto, worth 53 million euros. It also manages assets for the 70 million-euro Previambiente, the pension fund for workers in the environmental industry.

Franco Deotti, director of Fondo Pensione Solidarieta’ Veneto said: “I am very happy that Arca has been given this recognition especially since the source of such a distinction is so well qualified.”

“We are very satisfied with the result Arca has delivered last year. In fact with 5.6% annual returns they are practically the best asset managers we have,” Deotti told IPE.

Last March Arca also conformed to the Global Investment Performance Standards, the ethical standards used by investment managers to create performance presentations that ensure fair representation and full disclosure.

The rating agency said: “As the asset management arm of the group of Italian cooperative banks, Arca benefits from the good franchise of its shareholders in the retail market.”

Fitch said that inflows from institutional investors have “more than offset” the “considerable retail outflows” seen in 2002 and 2003.

“The company has developed a robust technological platform to facilitate the efficient portfolio management and increasingly integrated transaction processing. This highlights the asset manager’s willingness and capacity of to acquire adequate resources to best support its activities,” Fitch added.

Arca‘s main owners are Banche Popolari Unite with a 23% stake, Em.Ro. Popolare at 20%, Banca Popolare di Vicenza with 10.9%. The Banca Popolare di Lodi has 10.3%.