GERMANY - Volkswagen Stiftung, a €2.4bn foundation that bears the German car giant's name, has awarded German asset manager Oppenheim KAG with a €60m fund-of-hedge fund mandate, IPE has confirmed (Updates to name investor).

The confirmation, obtained from well-placed sources in Frankfurt, follows an announcement by Oppenheim KAG that it had won the mandate from a "long-term oriented" institutional investor that refused to be named.

As Oppenheim KAG won the mandate without the involvement of an investment consultant, there was intense speculation in Frankfurt earlier today that the foundation was the investor cited.

The foundation, which promotes research and academic learning, recently told a German newspaper that it would step up investment in hedge funds, albeit without a consultant's help.
Volkswagen Stiftung declined to comment to IPE.

On behalf of Volkswagen Stiftung, Oppenheim KAG is setting up a Spezialfonds structure for the €60m investment - the first of its kind in Germany. So far, German hedge funds have been offered as mutual funds, which, unlike Spezialfonds, do not enable the investor to influence the investment process.

London-based Attica Alternative Investments, in which Oppenheim KAG took a 49.9% stake last May, is the advisor for the fund, which will invest in up to 65 hedge funds

Demand for German-domiciled hedge funds, which were legalised at the start of 2004, totals €2.5bn - below initial projections. The market leader is DWS, the retail fund arm of Deutsche Bank, with €460m invested in the products.

But Detlef Bierbaum, managing partner at Sal. Oppenheim in charge of asset management, said he was convinced that the products would do well, as German investors had a need for greater diversification and protection from sudden market fluctuations.

"Next year, my expectation is that German institutional investors as a whole will raise their exposure to the asset class to 3%," Bierbaum told a press conference yesterday in London. German private bank Sal. Oppenheim is the parent of Oppenheim KAG.

Separately, German asset manager Lupus alpha said it had appointed Wolfgang Leoni as the new chief investment officer for its alternative products unit, whose offering includes hedge funds. He replaces Kay-Peter Tönnes, who said last June he was leaving to start his own business.

Leoni was previously CIO at Deka Investment, the asset manager tied to German Sparkassen, or publicly-owned savings banks.