EUROPE – T. Rowe Price’s head of sales for Germany and Austria, Stephan Matter, is to join Unigestion.

The firm’s head of investment services, Christian Elsmark, confirmed Matter’s departure and said that he would take over his duties.

“We’ve now got a vacancy in that area,” he said. Elsmark added that there were a couple of deals on the horizon in Germany, which would determine staffing levels.

Matter had been on a part-time contract with the Baltimore-based asset manager for the last year while he was studying for a PhD in private equity. Elsmark said Matter would focus on private equity in his new role.

Matter said he would be director, marketing for private equity, on a global basis at Unigestion. “I think it’s a relatively natural move,” he said, referring to his move into private equity. A spokeswoman for Unigestion confirmed he was joining but said he hadn’t signed a contract yet.

Matter joined T. Rowe Price more than three years ago from Dresdner RCM and was part of the team that founded its European operations. T. Rowe Price now has 25 staff in Europe, based in London, Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

Swiss-based Unigestion has stated its objective to build up its private equity business, naming Hanspeter Bader as head of the division in December. It has 3.5 billion euros under management.

Last year the firm went private following a 2.5 million Swiss franc loss in 2001, though it swung to a profit of 3.1 million francs in 2002.