NETHERLANDS – Robeco, the asset management arm of Rabobank, saw a net outflow of institutional assets of €1.3bn in 2004 – mainly from US institutions.

“These outflows mainly occurred in lower-fee institutional mandates,” the firm said. The decline came as the group’s total assets under management rose 4.6% to €113.2bn.

It had an investment result of €4.6bn, “helped by the strong performance of capital markets but partly offset by the depreciation of the US dollar in 2004”.

Robeco reported that its 2004 operating profit rose three percent to €187m.

It said: “These positive results were achieved despite the fact that asset managers in Europe experienced increasing competition.

“The once comfortable and protected positions these managers enjoyed with their captive distribution channels are gradually coming under attack.

“The open-architecture trend is developing slowly but surely. Demand for mutual funds from retail investors in Europe, especially in the Netherlands, has also contracted significantly over the last few years.”

Robeco added that its managed-futures hedge fund, Transtrend, had “excellent” investment returns in 2004, leading to an increase in performance fees.

Most client inflows were in fixed income and outflows occurred in the equity area.

It added: “Robeco expects that given the improved market climate assets under management will increase further in 2005 through cash inflows as well as investment results.”

Elsewhere, hedge fund group MAN said institutional assets under management have risen to $18bn from $16.3bn a year before.