ITALY - Pioneer Investments says its hedge fund assets under management rose almost 60% in 2003.

The UniCredito Italiano arm said in a statement that total assets under management in hedge funds at the end of last year were 2.45 billion euros, a 59.8% on the start of the year.

Total assets under management rose 12% to 115.8 billion euros.

The Milan-based group reported a 45% rise in net sales to 8.9 billion euros.

It posted a 118% increase in its international division - where of “ particular note” were sales in Germany, which were up by 520 million euros and Spain, up 421 million euros. International assets rose 56.4% to 5.8 billion euros.

Italy saw more than two billion euros of net flows. Total assets under management in Italy rose 6.2% to 85.7 billion euros.