Phoenix Investment Partners of Hartford, Conn., says it will get a good fit and good location in its latest in a string of acquisitions — a deal to buy Walnut Asset Management of Philadelphia.

Walnut, which specializes in high-net-worth clients, is relatively small in asset size — $800 million versus Phoenix’s $60 billion of retail, institutional, and high-net-worth assets. But Phoenix coveted the company’s experience with foundations and its deep roots in the Philadelphia area, a spokeswoman for the buyer said.

Included in the deal, which was announced last week and is scheduled to close in February, is Walnut’s sister company, the Philadelphia broker-dealer Rutherford, Brown & Catherwood. The price was not disclosed.

Unlike other asset managers Phoenix Investment has bought, Walnut’s business is not national in scope. It clients include wealthy families as well as the foundations and endowments, and are almost exclusively in the Philadelphia area.

Buying Walnut — which is to keep its name — would also give Phoenix more clients in the so-called mass affluent category — individuals and families with assets of $1 million to $5 million. Walnut and Phoenix expect to capture more and more of these people, since many other high-net-worth managers are forgoing them in favor of much richer clients, Walnut executive vice president Bayard Fiechter said.

Phoenix has about $12.5 billion of assets under management in the high-net-worth category, $3.5 billion of it in privately managed individual client accounts and $9 billion in managed accounts.

Walnut’s advisory services are to be available throughout Phoenix’s distribution system, and the deal may lead to joint product or advisory agreements, Mr. Fiechter said.

Phoenix has been on a buying spree that began in 1997 and is likely to continue this year, the spokeswoman said. She would not say what companies are being targeted.

Mr. Fiechter said his company decided to sell after coming to the conclusion in the first half of 2000 that it was too small to stay in business over the long term. It decided to go with Phoenix because of its hands-off approach to management and its national distribution network, Mr. Fiechter said.

Phoenix Investment Partners is a subsidiary of Phoenix Home Life Mutual Insurance Co. of Hartford.


From Our Archive:

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.