A joint venture in Milan between Banca Commerciale Italiana (BCI), major insurer Generali, and the British investment management house, Robert Fleming, is being hailed as a landmark event for the Italian pensions industry.

BCI and Generali have each taken 40% of the action, leaving 20% for Flemings, and the new venture SIMCOGEF has been awarded a ItL30bn ($16.5m) equities and bonds mandate for domestic and global investments by the Texas Instrument pension fund in Italy.

SIMCOGEF's managing director, Sergio Marini says: We are in business to offer global and domestic management to Italy's pension funds, with the asset management being done by Flemings managers from London, based here in Italy, and re-porting to Flemings general manager in Italy, Anthony Mosley." The joint venture is also able to offer banking and custody services through BCI, with all the global custody done through BCI and its sub-custodian network abroad,and sales support coming from 1,200 BCI branches throughout Italy.

And, through Generali, it can offer pension fund insurance, backed up by 600 Generali agencies in Italy.

Marini says: "SIMCOGEF is offering closed funds to companies, open funds to private clients,and investments, from the most prudent to the risky."

He explains that: "Before appointing SIMCOGEF, Texas Instruments managed their own funds in-house. Fifty per cent of their monies will stay inside Italy and the remainder are going abroad to some 20 countries, chiefly in the US, but not to any emerging markets."

Whilst the SIMCOGEF joint venture is a first for Flemings in Italy, it is not a first for Generali or BCI, as according to Marini, both "have already done one joint venture called ASSIBA, with a captive insurance company, and another - called Prenet -for pension fund administration. There is also another joint venture known as Genercomit, between Generali and BCI, for consultancy."

Bob Crew"