A majority stake in top performing Irish asset manager Montgomery Govett has been bought by a German private bank, the Cologne-based Sal Oppenheim & Cie.

It acquired the stake held by AIB Asset Management since the major Irish banking group, AIB, bought out UK managers, John Govett, at the end 1995. #The company has been renamed Mongomery Oppenheim.

For the 200-year-old German bank, a partnership that manages funds of DM30bn ($16bn), buying Montgomery fits in with its strategy of establishing relationships with select-ed managers worldwide. Oppenheim managing partner Detlef Bierbaum says: We already have formed an asset management partnership in the Far East with Lloyd George Management and advisory agreements in the US with American Century and in Scandinavia with Carlson Investment."

Montgomery had institutional assets of nearly Ir£300m ($430m) at end 1996, in both segregated and pooled accounts. It is also involved in the retail funds market through a leading building society.

Managing director Paul Montgom-ery, who founded the firm in 1986 says it has been top performing manager over three and five years on its balanced portfolios. "We were top manager for total equities, Irish equities and UK equities in the local CPMS performance survey for the three years to 1996."

Since AIB group acquired its stake, the search for another partner was necessary, says Montogomery. "The aim has been to find a partner with a similar commitment to independent investment management." Discussions took place with around 10 main-ly UK-based managers, with some deals coming close to completion. "We found that most expected to takeover our asset management function, no matter what we said."

When Oppenheim made overtures, Montgomery says there was a similarity in approach, which recognised the firm's skills and wanted to use its expertise. "I find the concept of sharing this local expertise within this glo-bal partnership attractive."

Oppenheim bought AIB's 40% stake and the 20% of former Montgomery director Dan Donovan, who recently became investment manager of New Ireland.

The price has not been disclosed but has been put locally at Ir£3 to Ir£4m.

Fennell Betson"