Colleagues, friends and competitors of Gilles Glicenstein have paid tribute to the late head of asset management at French bank BNP Paribas, whose death at 44 has saddened the European funds industry, writes Yuri Bender.

Mr Glicenstein had been busy overseeing integration of the Fortis funds arm, adding more than €200bn (£180bn, $265bn) in assets to the €300bn at BNP Paribas Investment Partners. He was keen to respond to the merger of the funds franchises of Société Générale and Credit Agricole.

The forward looking, science-fiction loving Mr Glicenstein, a visiting professor of economics at the Paris Dauphine University, was a strong believer in open architecture from the mid-1990s, when other banks dismissed the use of rival funds within French investment products.

His decision to suspend trading of three funds with US subprime exposure in summer 2007 was ridiculed by French competitors and seen by ex-Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan as triggering the financial crisis. But Mr Glicenstein had the last laugh, as his profitability, boosted by conservative exposures, surged ahead of rivals.

Baudouin Prot, chief executive of BNP Paribas, says: “Gilles was a remarkable man. He was brilliant, extremely likeable and exceptionally gifted both professionally and personally.” Mr Glicenstein’s role will be temporarily filled by Jacques d’Estais, head of the bank’s Investment Solutions arm.

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