UK – Merrill Lynch Investment Managers says it won around half of all the pitches for mandates it made in the first quarter.

“In the first quarter of this year, we have made 55 pitches for mandates, and have won around half of them,” said spokesman Nigel Webb. “Also over the last eighteen months we’ve had a number of good hires in the areas that we have wanted to strengthen and focus on.”

Earlier this month MLIM, which is the fifth largest manager of European pension fund assets, settled a legal dispute with the 2.9 billion euro pension scheme of the Co-operative Group. MLIM has now settled with three UK pension schemes over disputes relating to Mercury Asset Management, the fund management firm it bought in 1997.

The latest win was a mandate from mobile communications provider mm02 to run a 70 million pound (98.2 million euro) specialist equity mandate for its pension fund. It would be run by Hugo Tudor of MLIM’s specialist UK team. Details of the mandate are not being given.

The mm02 appointment follows wins from Goodrich and IMI. It represents a turn-around from the end of last year when MLIM lost a succession of mandates as schemes moved out of balanced into specialised portfolios.

Webb said: “The move from balanced to specialist had been ongoing for the last four to five years, and did not come as a surprise. Consequently we repositioned ourselves to be competitive in obtaining specialist mandates.”

Merrill Lynch Investment Managers manages around 1.1 trillion dollars worldwide and has around 83 billion dollars of European pension assets under management.