Amsouth Bancorp has unveiled a joint venture with three portfolio managers formerly employed by Barnett Banks Inc.

The $18.6 billion-asset banking company has agreed to take an initial 50% equity stake in the start-up firm, Sawgrass Asset Management, Jacksonville, Fla. Amsouth would not specify the amount of its investment.

Amsouth's stake would decrease "slightly" over time as that of the three Sawgrass managers increases, said Michael C. Baker, executive vice president in charge of Amsouth's capital management group.

The Sawgrass partners-Brian K. Monroe, Dean McQuiddy, and Andrew M. Cantor-held investment management roles in Barnett's capital advisory unit. Jacksonville-based Barnett was acquired by NationsBank Corp., Charlotte, N.C., last month.

Under the arrangement, Sawgrass would advise two new portfolios in Amsouth's proprietary mutual fund family, which has $3.9 billion of assets.

Last year Amsouth teamed with Rockhaven Asset Management, Pittsburgh. It is eyeing a similar alliance in the Midwest, Mr. Baker said.

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