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Gartmore is set for 500m deal

US private equity firm to lock in Roger Guy and major fund managers

Gartmore is poised to be bought for 500m by US private equity group Hellman & Friedman in a deal which aims to lock in all the group’s leading fund managers.

The fund firm’s US parent Nationwide Mutual has been seeking a buyer for the last six months.

Gartmore head of European retail Paul Feeney will run the operation while Roger Guy, who runs European selected opportunities and the European investment trust, is staying. Guy staying on as a fund manager was regarded as essential for a deal. He is known to have employed his own investment bank to represent him.

One well known IFA says he has been assured that “all major fund managers” at the group have been locked in.

A source says the deal will cost San Francisco-based Hellman & Friedman around 500m and the group will allow Gartmore’s senior management team, headed by Feeney, to run the operation.

IFAs say the managers staying on include Pacific opportunities, emerging markets opportunities and China opportunities fund manager Philip Ehrmann; cautious managed and UK equity income fund manager Chris Burvill; Irish growth investment trust and Gartmore fledgling trust manager Gervais Williams; and UK focus fund managers Ashley Willing and Simon King. The deal is also expected to include Bambos Hambi’s multi-manager team.

Advisers are now calling for the firm to put the months of speculation behind it and set a strategy to restore it as a major player.

A source close to the sale says: “Nationwide wanted to allow this management buyout, which is being driven by the management and the team. It is perceived that there are winners all round.

“My understanding is that Gartmore’s employees are happy with the deal. It is not a lock-in but a want-in. The extent of the lock-in goes deep into the management structure of the group. It puts the managing and accountability firmly in the hands of the management who are running the business.”

A Gartmore spokesman says: “There are a couple of issues outstanding but nothing significant. A significant amount of the equity in the business will reside with the management team.”

Dennehy Weller & Co managing director Brian Dennehy says: “Gartmore has been nothing particularly special for a while. The takeover in itself will not change my perception that they need to start delivering a general improvement across all the core fund areas.”

One rival fund chief says: “I would not be 100 per cent sure that all the fund managers are staying.’

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