During the run-up to the rebrand of one of Europe's most prolific asset management groups, this publication sat down with its chief executive to discuss the motives behind the redesign, strategy and plans for global growth.
Earlier this week, France’s Natixis Asset Management rebranded as Ostrum Asset Management in a move to “internationalise” the business while making it distinguishable from its parent, Natixis Investment Managers.
The €324 billion ($398 billion) asset manager sits alongside over 20 affiliates under the Natixis umbrella.
Prior to the rebrand, however, it was the only Natixis-branded affiliate, and its identity was almost identical to Natixis Investment Managers. (Imagine someone who doesn’t drink soda trying to tell Coca-Cola and its zero-calorie equivalent apart at a glance and you’ll get a sense of the confusion that arises.)
“The principal reason behind the rebrand is that there has been a lot of historical confusion between ourselves and our parent,” Matthieu Duncan, chief executive of Ostrum Asset Management, told this publication during the run-up to the April 3 rebrand. “Now, we have upgraded the brand architecture with a standalone name that will clarify things for our clients.”
In Latin, Ostrum translates as purple, the main colour used by the Natixis brand. This subtly links Ostrum to its parent, while a Latin name symbolises the firm’s European roots, Duncan explained.
Although the group is committed to its core markets in Europe, one major aim of the rebrand is to build out the business internationally, Duncan said.
“We have historically been a very French business, but we are very keen to internationalise our business and to develop ourselves internationally more than we have in the past,” he said. The firm’s long-standing links with France were formed when it began managing assets on behalf of CNP Assurances, the once state-owned life insurance company.
Ostrum has footholds in Boston, US, and Singapore, which will help facilitate international expansion. Closer to home, the firm has “made good headway” in Spain and Italy in recent years, Duncan said.
"We are focused on our customers, but also extending our investment know-how," he said. “Here in Europe, it’s natural for us. In Paris, we’re close to other main hubs of [asset management] activity. But we will build out areas bit by bit and hire selectively as we grow and develop.”
The rebrand is also part of Ostrum’s strategic goal to focus on fixed income, equity and insurance.
“We have too many funds, too many small funds and too many small products,’ so were going to do some housekeeping and strip things down a bit,” he said. “We’re keen to try to consolidate and have some larger, more scalable funds, and we may have lacked a bit of discipline in the past on that front so we intend to refocus the range a bit.”
In terms of deals, Ostrum’s door is open to M&A, Duncan said, but such decisions are typically made by its parent group.
“There might be deals that make sense for us, but M&A is mostly thought about above us at holding company level,” he said. “We might, however, do more team build outs and things of that nature.”