European banks are targeting international investors in Hong Kong, with Paris-based Banque Worms yesterday launching its Haussmann International Fund, aimed at giving investors easy access to the European bond and equity markets. The head of the bank's Paris research team, Philippe Leseur, said the advent next year of the single European currency would provide very attractive investment opportunities for investors from across Asia. 'With the unification of European equity markets, which we expect to double over the next five years, Europe is a must for a sound, diversified portfolio,' he said. According to Mr Leseur, what made continental Europe most attractive was that earnings per share were expected to rise by 15 per cent over the next year, compared to 10 per cent for Britain, zero for the United States and 5 per cent for Japan. Mr Leseur confirmed that recent events in Russia could undermine confidence in the region, but he said constituents of the fund's portfolio would have very limited Russian exposure. 'European banks have the biggest exposure, but they are what we'd call global companies,' he said. 'We will concentrate on companies that operate within a European context and therefore have lower risk exposure,' Mr Leseur added. Because of the lack of proper regulation in Russia and the difficulties in developing a distribution network, many European countries had experienced difficulty in capturing a segment of the market, therefore their exposure was limited, Mr Leseur said. Products in the fund include equities in European blue chips, and small to medium-sized companies. Also included are a French equity fund, a European government bonds fund and a broad range of short-term debt securities denominated in US dollars.