CZECH REPUBLIC - Pioneer Global Asset Management is to merge three of its four companies operating in the Czech Republic - with job losses estimated at “less than a hundred”.

The move involves around 273 million euros in assets.

The decision to merge came as management realised that two companies owned by UniCredito’s Ivnostenska Banka and Pioneer Czech Investment were “more or less doing the same thing”, spokesman Milo Flav-Ilostanv Doubrada said

“From the managerial point of view, there was an immediate need to put things to order and we are now in the process of merging.”

He added that, although no figure was available at present, the number of jobs at risk was estimated to be “far less than a hundred”.

By the end of 2004 ZBT Investment Company and its asset management arm, owned by UniCredito’s Ivnostenska Banka will have merged with Pioneer Czech Investment Company. The three companies employ a total of 70 people.

The first phase of the merger started in December 2003, when ZBT Investment Company and ZBT Asset Management were bought by PGAM, part of Italy’s Unicredito.

Pioneer Czech Financial, the fourth company operating in the country and focusing on the Croatian, Bulgarian and Turkish markets, however, will not be included in the operation.

The name of the new company has not yet been decided, but according to Doubrada: “It could be the brand-name Pioneer with no reference to the Czech market because we operate in Slovakia as well.”