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Stockholm-based Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken has agreed to acquire London-based fund of hedge funds manager Key Asset Management, which has more than USD3bn in assets under management.

As a part of the SEB group, Key says, it will benefit from a broader distribution platform and additional resources in order to grow its business further. For the Swedish group, the acquisition is an important step in its strategy to develop its alternative investment business and strengthen its asset management product offering.

Key's flagship fund, Key Hedge Fund, has generated positive returns for 17 consecutive years. Since 2003, KAM has advised SEB on SEB Multihedge, a market-independent fund of hedge funds.

As a wholly-owned subsidiary of SEB, Key will operate as a separate unit within its wealth management division. The London firm's senior management and executives will continue in their existing roles, and its product range and investment process will be unaffected by the transfer of ownership, which will see the business rebranded SEB Key.

'SEB and Key share a common objective of becoming one of the leading fund of hedge funds organisations in Europe,' says Key chairman and founder Morten H Kielland. 'Combining our resources, we will be one step closer to achieving this goal.'

The firm's chief executive Simon Ewart adds: 'The acquisition will bring benefits to all existing and prospective clients of both Key and SEB, with our offering further strengthened by having SEB as our institutional partner. SEB clients will gain access to a highly successful and well-established fund of hedge funds manager with more than 17 years experience, a rigorous investment process and a highly skilled investment team.'

Completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory approval, which is expected to be obtained by early next year. Key was advised by Hawkpoint Partners in this transaction.

Kielland founded Key Asset Management in 1989 to evaluate and invest with hedge funds, with the Key Hedge Fund launched in April 1990. The firm aims to achieve high risk-adjusted rates of return and preservation of capital across a variety of market cycles and serves a range of institutional investors from its offices in London, Oslo, Stockholm, Geneva and New York.

SEB serves some 400,000 corporate and institutional customers and five million private individuals from offices in the Nordic and Baltic countries, Germany, the Ukraine and Russia as well as a presence in 10 other countries worldwide. The SEB group, which has some 20,000 employees, had USD215bn in assets under management at the end of September.


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