A management buyout of most of Gartmore Investment Management, assisted by buyout specialist Hellman & Freidman, ranks as easily the largest management buyout of a funds management firm in the world, according to figures compiled by industry M&A firm Putnam Lovell NBF Securities.

London-based Gartmore, a previous owner of the old County Investment Management in Australia (now INVESCO Australia) has about $US44.9 billion under management. The previous largest management buyout was for AIM Management way back in July 1993, accounting for $US22.6 billion. The third-largest management buyout was also organised by Hellman & Freidman, that of the $US20.9 billion Delaware International Advisers in May 2004. Gartmore’s owner, the Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, has retained the firm’s US operation but agreed last week to sell all of the UK, European, Japanese and Latin American arms. Allen Thorpe, managing director of Hellman &Freidman, said his firm would work closely with Gartmore management to support its strategic objective, focused on alpha creation. “The transaction will enhance stability and serve as a catalyst to enable the company to realise its full potential.” He said a core focus would be to accelerate the “business momentum”. The company had returned, for 2005, its best financial performance in its history, and had a record first-quarter for 2006, despite a period of corporate uncertainty, he said. Gartmore’s board of directors will include three employees – Jeff Meyer, chief executive officer, Roger Guy, investment director, and Paul Feeney, head of distribution – and three representatives of Hellman & Freidman, as well as an independent director.

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