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International Asset Management in management buyout from Fortis

International Asset Management, one of the oldest fund of hedge funds managers, has completed a management buyout following a strategic review underway since the merger, completed in April, of Fortis Investments and ABN Amro Asset Management, IAM's previous owner.

Launched in April 1989, IAM was privately owned until February 2006 when it was acquired by ABN Amro Asset Management and became its fund of hedge funds business. During this period, the firm operated as a separate entity with no external influence over the investment processes or business management. The entire IAM team including the original founders remains with the firm.

IAM, which has offices in London and New York and had USD4.3bn in assets under management at the end of March, specialises in providing tailor-made fund of hedge funds portfolios and also manages a range of offshore commingled funds. Its flagship fund Alternative Investment Strategies was the first closed-ended fund of hedge funds to be listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1996.

Lex Kloosterman, a member of the Fortis Group executive committee and responsible for asset management, says: 'Following a strategic review of our investment in IAM, we concluded that an MBO would be the best solution, reflecting the interests of all stakeholders, including our shareholders, and IAM's customers and employees. We wish management every future success.'

Ownership of IAM now rests with a broad group of employees supported by two new external shareholders, Sir Ronald Cohen, co-founder of private equity firm Apax Partners, and Jefferies Group, a US mid-market investment bank and institutional securities firm.

Future plans for the firm include increasing IAM's global reach and audience and developing a broader sales and distribution network, while continuing to focus on customised fund of hedge funds solutions for institutional and private clients.

'We feel this MBO is the optimal solution for IAM clients and employees and we appreciate the support shown by Fortis to reach this conclusion,' says IAM chief executive Morten Spenner. 'Our future as an independent specialist is an exciting opportunity for us all.

'IAM's new ownership structure generates a strong alignment of interests within the firm plus great depth of experience from our two new external shareholders. The support which Sir Ronald and Jefferies are showing us, as well as our financing partner, ING Capital, represents a significant vote of confidence in IAM as a business and as a team.'

Cohen says: 'For more than a decade, IAM has proved itself to be one of the most successful managers in its field. I have every confidence that IAM has a bright future as an independent company under the leadership of its talented management team.'

David Weaver, president of Jefferies International, adds: 'Jefferies recognises the increasing significance of the fund of hedge funds market. This investment represents a further strengthening of our relationship with IAM, which is led by a team with whom we have worked closely over the years.'

Financing for the acquisition was provided by ING Capital. Jefferies Putnam Lovell acted as IAM's financial advisor and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton provided the company's legal advice.

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