The asset management unit for Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) has agreed to sell some assets to three of its executives.

Tim Ford, Seamus Murphy and Amy Denn, members of the unit's management team, will buy certain assets associated with its investment operations in Minneapolis and Cleveland.

Once the deal is completed, Ford, Seamus and Denn would operate as a separate entity called Foundry Partners. The two firms plan to enter into a cooperative sales and service agreement. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter, Fifth Third said Friday.

Foundry expects to launch in February with more than $2 billion of advisory assets. Rosemont Investment Partners will provide equity capital to Foundry and will become the sole outside minority shareholder, Rosemont said in a separate release.

Meanwhile, Fifth Third Asset Management has named Mitchell Stapley its chief investment officer. Stapley, an 11-year veteran of the unit, had been chief fixed income officer. He replaces Keith Wirtz, who left to pursue other opportunities, Fifth Third said.

Fifth Third Asset Management has been focusing more on institutional clients and very wealthy individuals, two markets where it sees more growth opportunities. The unit sold the assets of 16 mutual funds and about $5 billion in money market fund assets in two separate transactions this year. Once the deal with Foundry closes, the unit would narrow its product lines for the institutional market; it plans to concentrate on fixed income, dividend growth and strategic income, Fifth Third said.

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