Man to reduce Westport interest

Man Group, the alternative investment group, is reducing the 67 percent stake it acquired in Westport Private Equity, the UK fund of funds manager, to less than 50 percent.

Man Group, a global provider of alternative investment products and agency brokerage, announced in a statement yesterday that it had agreed to reduce its majority shareholding in Birmingham,UK-based private equity fund of funds manager Westport Private Equity to less than 50 percent.

Man acquired a 67 percent interest in Westport in December 2002. It was hailed as a strong commitment to private equity by Man, and was seen as part of a move to build a large private equity fund of funds business.

Asked to explain the decision to reduce its stake, a spokesperson for Man told PrivateEquityOnline: “It is a reflection of the fact that Man’s hedge fund business has been going so well. Therefore, it is not focusing to the same extent as it originally anticipated on broader alternative assets.”

As part of its statement yesterday, Man announced that its funds under management had increased to an estimated $42 billion, up from $38.4 billion at 30 September 2004.   

The spokesperson went on to say that the sale of the Westport stake had not yet completed, and that a further announcement on the matter is expected next month. Man has not revealed at this stage who is acquiring the 17 percent-plus interest.

It was also not immediately apparent whether Man was retaining a 25 percent stake in co-investment specialist Parallel Ventures, which it acquired at the same time as the Westport deal. Parallel was formed in 1997 to make direct co-investments in companies alongside private equity managers and in 1999 acquired a 67 percent stake in Westport, most of which was sold on to Man.

No-one at Westport Private Equity was immediately available for comment.