Arki Busson sells hedge fund firm to Swiss fund manager Gottex


By Alice Baghdjian

ZURICH, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Celebrity financier Arpad Busson is selling hedge fund investor EIM Group to Switzerland's Gottex Fund Management Holdings in a move the Swiss fund manager said on Monday would create a group with fee earning assets of close to $10 billion.

Busson, a high-profile figure in the hedge fund world partly as a result of his relationship with actress Uma Thurman, has been considering a sale of EIM, which he chairs and founded in the early 1990s, for more than a year.

Further consolidation among so-called funds of hedge funds has been anticipated since a spate of deals in 2012, with managers running less than $3 billion facing a struggle to survive amid shrinking assets and rising costs.

Busson, known as "Arki" in the industry, is also well known for his charity work and his involvement in the lavish ARK Gala Dinner which was a highlight of the London hedge fund industry's social calendar but was this year quietly shelved.

Scale is becoming increasingly important in fund management for dealing with regulatory requirements and also because of clients' preference for larger firms, Gottex said, adding it aimed to further increase its asset base in the next two years.

Gottex said it remained on the look-out for new partners to widen its distribution.

The combined group will focus on multi-asset, multi-manager and Asia-focused investments, as well as risk and infrastructure, the firms said.

EIM shareholders will receive up to 14 million newly-issued Gottex shares and own approximately 30 percent of the combined group, pending approval from Gottex shareholders and regulators, the firms said.

Based on Gottex's closing share price of 2.25 Swiss francs on Friday, 14 million shares would be worth around 31.5 million francs ($35.4 million). Shares in Gottex closed 7 percent higher on Monday at 2.41 Swiss francs following news of the purchase of EIM Group.

Gottex shareholders would own the remaining 70 percent of the enlarged group, which will retain Gottex chief executive Joachim Gottschalk as its head, the two firms added.

Both firms expect the transaction to be completed within three to four months.

EIM, founded in 1992, provides strategies for high net worth and institutional investors around the world, and held $3.0 billion in assets under management at the end of September.

Gottex said last month it would form a joint venture with China's VStone Asset Management, to further its aim to invest in Asia and raise capital from the region.

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