Pioneer suspends two senior Dublin executives

Claims that pair were involved in efforts to set up another asset management company

The largest asset manager in Dublin, Pioneer Investments, has suspended two senior executives in its Irish operation amid claims that both have been involved in efforts to set up another asset management company.

Sources said that the suspended individuals are Tanguy Le Saout, head of European fixed income, who oversees bond portfolio management as well as the company's European credit research, and Ali Chabaane, head of portfolio construction, covering equities, bonds and other assets.

The firm has moved two other senior executives, Cosimo Marasciulo, head of European government bonds, and global chief of staff for investments, Declan Murray, to cover their duties. The firm has told clients, as it informed them of the developments in recent days, that no regulatory or corporate breaches have occurred.

Efforts to contact the four men and a spokeswoman for Pioneer in Dublin were unsuccessful, while a spokesman for the asset manager in Boston declined to comment.


Exclusive talks

News of the suspensions comes in the same week as it emerged that Pioneer's parent, Italian bank Unicredit, has entered exclusive talks to sell the unit to French asset manager, Amundi, in a deal that is believed to value the business in the region of €3.5 billion.

A deal is part of efforts by the Italian group to overhaul itself and raise as much as €13 billion through asset sales and a share sale, according to reports.

The wider Italian banking system is struggling with €360 billion of bad loans. A move by Italian voters to reject a referendum on constitutional reform on Sunday, prompting prime minister Matteo Renzi to say he is resigning, is seen as hampering the efforts of the country's banks, particularly Monte dei Paschi di Siena, to raise capital.

Pioneer has housed its European investment base on George's Quay in Dublin since 1998. The unit, Pioneer Investment Management Ltd, had 473 employees at the end of last year, according to its most recent set of accounts filed with the Companies Registration Office.

The Dublin business reported an operating profit of €20.2 million last year.

Pioneer is Europe’s sixth-largest asset gatherer with around €225 billion of assets under management.

Pioneer, bought by Unicredit in 2000, traces its origins back to one of the oldest US mutual funds, created in 1928 by Philip L Carret, a financial reporter at business weekly Barrons. Unicredit was involved in talks earlier this year to sell the firm to Spanish banking giant Santander. Those plans fell through in July.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times