ITALY – Janus Capital Group has appointed ING’s Marco Grassi to the new position of sales director for Italy to focus on Italian institutional clients.

Grassi joined the firm last week from Milan-based ING Investment Management Italia SGR, where Janus says he was co-head of institutional sales for the country.

A spokesman for ING said the issue of replacing Grassi had not yet been tackled.

In his new capacity, Grassi reports to Alex Ricchebuono, Janus’ regional sales director for Southern Europe, who heads a team of five London and Milan-based sales and support professionals. Grassi will be based in Milan.

“Marco will be a real asset to Janus and our clients,” said Ricchebuono. “With his broad product knowledge, wide range of relationships and experience in institutional sales, he’ll play a key role in helping Janus tap Southern Europe’s growing institutional asset pool.”

Janus said it began doing business in Southern Europe in 2000, with the retail sector as “primary focus” but had extended to the institutional sector with the opening of the Milan office in 2002.

Meanwhile, Denver-based Janus said its total assets under management rose 1.2% to around $139bn.