Affiliated Managers to buy Aston funds owner

AP News
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Posted: Dec 14, 2009 12:39 PM

Affiliated Managers Group Inc. is buying the parent company of the Aston mutual fund family in an all-stock deal worth nearly $114 million.

Boston-based Affiliated Managers and Highbury Financial Inc. said in separate news releases Monday that Affiliated Managers will issue nearly 1.75 million shares of AMG common stock at the deal's closing, which is expected in next year's second quarter. The shares will be issued in exchange for all the outstanding equity of Denver-based Highbury, and Highbury's sole subsidiary, Aston Asset Management, will become an AMG affiliate.

The companies did not offer an estimate of the transaction's value. The total would be around $113.6 million, based on Friday's $64.93 closing price for Affiliated Managers shares and the number of AMG shares to be issued at the time the deal closes.

After the deal's closing, employees and management at Aston, as well as subadvisers who manage the company's funds, will remain, Affiliated Managers said. Chicago-based Aston is the principal adviser to the Aston Funds, a group of 24 subadvised, no-load mutual funds with assets of about $6 billion as of Sept. 30.

The firm distributes its domestic equity, international, alternatives, sector, balanced and fixed-income funds to consultants, registered investment advisers, broker-dealers and workplace savings plans like 401(k)s.

The boards of Affiliated Managers and Highbury have approved the deal, along with the trustees of the Aston funds. The transaction is subject to approval of both Highbury shareholders and Aston mutual fund shareholders, as well as other closing condition and regulatory approvals.

Shares of Affiliated Managers fell 17 cents, or about 0.3 percent, to $64.76 in afternoon trading.

Shares of Highbury Financial, which are traded over-the-counter, jumped $1.32, or 33 percent, to $5.32.