LONDON (HedgeWorld.com)–Integrated Asset Management plc is launching an Italian hedge fund through its wholly owned fund management subsidiary, GAIM Advisors Ltd.

The firm appointed GAIM Advisors as the subadvisor for the Zenit Hunter Fund, which is offered by a separate Italian alternative investment management company called Zenit Alternative Investment SGR. A low volatility hedge fund, it is expected to be an important first step for IAM in the Italian hedge fund market, which totalled 97 billion euro (US$118 billion) at the end of May.

According to Integrated, Italy is one of the fastest growing hedge fund markets in Europe with 25 authorized alternative investment management companies.

Milan-based Zenit Alternative Investment is one of the few independent hedge fund managers in Italy, according to an IAM press release. IAM is a shareholder of the firm along with investment companies such as: PFM Finanziaria, Zenit SGR, Banco di Desio e della Brianza, EffeGestioni SGR and Finbon S.r.l.

Zenit SGR and Zenit Alternative Investment manage approximately 500,000 euro via discretionary portfolios, Italian domiciled mutual funds and two Italian domiciled funds of funds. David Basola, senior manager at London-based GAIM Advisors, recently was appointed to the Zenit board of directors. Furthermore, subject to approval from the Bank of Italy, Integrated will increase its stake in Zenit to 10%.

Emanuel Arbib, chief executive of Integrated in a statement said, “We are delighted that GAIM Advisors are acting as investment advisor to the Zenit Hunter Fund and to be more closely collaborating with ZAI. There are strong opportunities for growth in the Italian hedge fund market. Our range of products and services, specialist sector experience and local knowledge make us extremely well positioned to be important players in this market.”

IAM was founded in 1997. It currently has more than US$500 million in assets under management. Last summer, IAM acquired Appleton International Ltd., a subsidiary of South African financial services group PSG Investment Services. The July 2003 acquisition of Appleton’s hedge fund operations added US$320 million to GAIM’s assets under management .

Separately, to further its Italian presence IAM acquired an Italian brokerage firm. International Capital Markets, a Milan-based brokerage, will be merged into IAM’s Italian brokerage subsidiary Interfin SIM and the Italian branch of Integrated Financial Products, which is IAM’s London-based brokerage unit.

The combined entity is expected to handle about 50% of the total volume of the Italian institutional interest rate derivatives brokerage market. The transaction will be a combination of cash and shares totaling 1.4 million euro.

SBarreto@HedgeWorld.com

Contact Bob Keane with questions and comments at: bkeane@investmentadvisor.com.