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Duff & Phelps agrees to be bought for $665.5M

NEW YORK (AP) -- Financial advisory and investment banking firm Duff & Phelps said Sunday it agreed to be acquired for $665.5 million in cash by a group of private equity companies.

A group of funds managed by The Carlyle Group, Stone Point Capital LLC, Pictet & Cie and Edmond de Rothschild Group will pay $15.55 per share for the New York company, a 19 percent premium over the stock's closing price Friday of $13.05. Shares have traded between $11.36 and $16.50 in the past 52 weeks.

CEO Noah Gottdiener said the move was in the best interest of shareholders who will receive cash for their shares, and said it preserves the firm's independence.

The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2013, subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.

A "go-shop" period to solicit other offers will last until Feb. 8. The company will pay $6.65 million if it ends the agreement before March 8 in connection with a better offer.