Sale Buzz Surrounds a Bank's Mutual Fund Unit
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Monday, January 4, 2010

Sale Buzz Surrounds a Bank's Mutual Fund Unit

SunTrust is shopping its RidgeWorth Investments unit, Reuters reported Monday, citing unnamed sources.

David Eidson
RidgeWorth Investments
Chairman and CEO
Atlanta-based SunTrust hired Sandler O'Neill to explore a possible sale of RidgeWorth, according to the report. Both SunTrust and Sandler O'Neill declined to comment to Reuters.

Formerly known as Trusco Capital Management, RidgeWorth has eight investment boutiques and runs 50 mutual funds.

The RidgeWorth Funds have more than $32 million in AUM, according to the RidgeWorth Web site. RidgeWorth and its boutiques collectively manage $61.5 billion.

Julia Short
RidgeWorth Funds
President and CEO
Trusco was incorporated in Atlanta in 1984. In March 2008, Trusco changed its name to RidgeWorth and the STI Classic Funds were subsequently rebranded RidgeWorth Funds.

David Eidson has served as RidgeWorth Investments' CEO since 2004. The mutual fund business is led by Julia Short.

The eight boutiques in the RidgeWorth fold are Alpha Equity Management, Ceredex Value Advisors, Certium Asset Management, IronOak Advisors, Seix Investment Advisors, Silvant Capital Management StableRiver Capital Management and Zevenbergen Capital Investments.

Seix, which is in the high yield business, is particularly attractive, two unnamed investment bankers told Reuters.

Meanwhile, RidgeWorth's money market business could attract companies like Federated Investors, Fidelity Investments and State Street Corp., one of the bankers told the wire service.

If SunTrust's search ends in a deal, RidgeWorth would be the latest bank-owned asset manager to see a change in ownership.

Last September, Bank of America agreed to sell Columbia Management's long-term asset management business to Ameriprise. The $1 billion deal is slated to close in the spring. Also last year, Barclays sold Barclays Global Investors to BlackRock in a $15.2 billion deal that closed in December.

At the beginning of 2009, Evergreen Investments underwent an ownership change as part of a broader deal that saw all of Wachovia Corp. swallowed by Wells Fargo. And Regions Financial exited the retail mutual fund business through a deal with Pioneer Investments.

At the end of 2008, Allegiant Asset Management found itself with a new owner when its parent, National City, was purchased by PNC Financial.

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