ITALY - Unicredito Italiano’s Pioneer Global Asset management unit has completed its previously announced 110 billion dollar (109.6 million euro) acquisition of hedge fund company momentum group. Pioneer says the move strengthens its position in the alternative investments market.

The move will take Pioneer’s alternative investments group’s total assets under management to 2 billion euros.

The acquisition reflects the higher use that pension funds are making of alternative investments such as hedge funds and private equity. A survey by Greenwich Associated last week found that 31% of continental European pension funds are now using private equity, up from 13% in 2001.

Alberto La Rocca will head the merged entity, with Michael Goldman remaining managing director of the London office and head of investments for Momentum’s funds of hedge funds business.

“Momentum brings particular expertise in the funds of hedge funds market, which is expected to be one of the key areas of growth in the coming years,” Pioneer’s chief executive Dario Frigerio said in a news release.

Pioneer said that the purchase of Momentum will increase its geographic reach, with additional offices in Australia, Bermuda, Hong Kong, Israel, London and New York. The company added that it plans to open an office in Switzerland early in 2003 to concentrate on the alternative market.