Aim Management Group and Invesco PLC are on track to seal a merger agreement by the end of the month, according to the matchmaker who helped bring the two companies together.

Roberto deGuardiola Jr., president of of Liquid Distribution Systems in New York, said he introduced Aim to Invesco during the first week of July - a meeting which touched off their current merger negotiations.

Now, Mr. deGuardiola is predicting that a deal will be announced within 30 days, explaining that the two mutual fund companies have long been courting each other from afar.

Houston-based Aim, Mr. deGuardiola said, had put all of its merger aspirations on hold under an agreement it had with a former stakeholder, Amsterdam's Internationale Nederlanden Group, or ING. When Aim's management bought out ING's 22% stake in the company in 1993, it agreed to use the Dutch bank's investment bankers for all of its merger or acquisition advisory needs.

Aim's executives thought they could not seriously entertain a deal - with Invesco or anyone else - until the ING agreement expired, Mr. deGuardiola said. That happened on June 30, clearing the way for Aim to consider deals.

Indeed, according to Mr. deGuardiola, investment bankers hovered over Aim this spring, anxiously awaiting for the ING agreement to run out. A fast-growing stock fund shop with strong retail distribution, Aim has long been considered a hot candidate for a deal.

Aim, which manages $54 billion, and Invesco, a London-based firm with $90 billion in assets, last week confirmed that they are in merger talks. Industry sources said a deal, which would bring together companies with distinctly different strengths, would carry a price tag of about $1.6 billion.

Invesco's investment banker is James D. Wolfensohn Inc., a New York merger boutique acquired by Bankers Trust New York Corp. earlier this year. Alexander White, a senior investment banker at Wolfensohn, is on Invesco's board of directors. Mr. deGuardiola, who owns 1% of Aim, is helping the Houston firm's adviser, Merrill Lynch & Co.

Invesco, which has a subsidiary in Atlanta, manages institutional and retirement products.

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