EUROPE - Pioneer Alternative Investments has opened a London office as part of an ambitious expansion plan.

The firm, the alternative division of UniCredito's Pioneer Investments, also named Nigel Meir as head of sales and distribution in the UK and Scandinavia, a new role.

Chief executive Alberto La Rocca said: "London is becoming an important location for our hedge fund research and distribution activities." The new office space has room for 80 staff, it says.

Meir joins from Alpha Investment Management where he was head of the London office. Meir said: "In these market conditions it is essential to be able to provide a range of solutions to suit differing requirements."

It also hired Carcie Rogers as a product specialist from Alpha while Chris Greenall joins from Merrill Lynch as marketing communications specialist.

Pioneer Investments says gross total inflows for the group totalled 5.5 billion euros in the first half, up 3.2 billion euros, or 145% on the year-before period. It now has 110.8 billion euros in assets under management.