Liberty Financial Cos. is beefing up its emerging-markets investment capabilities with the purchase of a money management company that specializes in Asia.

The Boston-based company announced this week that it has signed a deal to acquire Newport Pacific Management, a San Francisco firm that manages $650 million of assets, Terms of the deal, which is expected to close in January, were not disclosed.

About two-thirds of Newport's assets are in its flagship Newport Tiger mutual fund, which invests in markets of Pacific Rim nations, excluding Japan. The balance of the assets are in institutional and individual accounts.

Liberty, best known in bank circles as a manager of investment-product sales programs, is a diversified asset management company with $29 billion under management.

The Newport acquisition comes on the heels of Liberty's announcement last month that it is buying the Colonial Group, a Boston-based fund company that manages $14 billion in assets. That transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 1995. With the Colonial deal under way, Liberty is shifting its focus to niche acquisitions, said William Rice. a spokesman for Liberty. "We are looking for boutique asset managers that can bring to the table a lot of special benefits."

Avi Nachmany, a partner with Strategic Insight, New York, said Liberty was wise to round out its offerings by adding an Asian4nvestments component.

"Newport is a small organization that has proven its expertise in an area of the international arena that is likely to continue to be very much in demand," Mr. Nachmany said.

Liberty, he added, is "building a portfolio of both investment and marketing expertise that will: have the potential to make the company much more successful."

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