GERMANY - UK asset manager Morley has opened a sales office in Frankfurt this week to break into Germany's retail and institutional fund market.

Morley said that for the office, it planned to hire a German head as well as sales staff "over the next few months".

Currently, only a client relationship manager is working out of the office. Adam Lessing, head of European business development, is also shuttling back and forth from Morley's base in London.

The Frankfurt office is Morley's fourth on the European continent. It also has offices in Milan, Madrid and Warsaw.

Lessing noted that while Morley was just one of a host of foreign asset managers to enter Germany recently, the house brought "unique skills to the market".

"There is significant demand for property and absolute return funds in this region…We manage more than €40bn of property funds and more than €150bn of tactical asset allocation mandates," he said.

He added: "We recognise that a permanent sales presence and focussed commitment is needed to successfully penetrate this market."

Morley, with €239bn in assets under management globally, is the latest foreign asset manager to break into Germany's fund market. Its move comes just a few weeks after UK peer Aberdeen opened an office in Frankfurt and hired Hartmut Leser, a well-known figure in Germany's institutional market, to run it.

Others that have opened an office in Germany to chase institutional business since late 2005 include ING Investment Management, Principal Global Investors, BlackRock from the US, France's Crédit Agricole Asset Management and Belgium's Dexia Asset Management.

A key reason for the arrival of these foreign asset managers is the current boom in corporate pensions. That boom is being driven by an increasing willingness in corporate Germany to set up external funds to finance pension liabilities.