GERMANY - Hamburg-based investment management firm Union Investment Real Estate (Union) has appointed Karl-Joseph Hermanns-Engel to its management board with specific responsibility for the €14bn firm's international asset management operations.

Hermanns-Engel is being brought in to replace Michael Montebaur, who is leaving to set up his own business, but has extensive experience in international property asset management.

He was recently chief executive officer of French group AXA Investment Manager's German subsidiary which specialises in open-ended real estate funds and was global head of management of regulated real estate fund products within the wider AXA Group

Hermann-Engels is joining the firm just as Union is looking to expand further beyond its domestic borders. Its global expansion policy has already seen it establish offices and local partnerships in 22 prime locations throughout the world.

Union's investment philosophy is to pursue active management through open-ended investment vehicles but it also goes beyond investment management to act as a landlord in property management and project development in the commercial sector.

Despite the economic downturn, Union is forging ahead with its global expansion as it last week made its first investment in neighbouring Switzerland, acquiring an office building.

The Swiss deal adds property worth €100m alongside its Tokyo holdings acquired in July through a €90m investment in a commercial enterprise.

Union Invesments' overall investments worldwide in 2008 has thus far exceeded €1.5bn.