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WL Ross to Be Sold

July 24, 2006|From Bloomberg News

Wilbur Ross, dubbed the "King of Bankruptcy" for investing in distressed companies, agreed to sell his firm to Amvescap for as much as $375 million to target more acquisitions in Asia.

Amvescap, owner of the Aim and Invesco mutual funds, will pay $100 million for New York-based WL Ross & Co., plus $55 million annually over five years, the companies said today in a statement.

Ross will run Amvescap's buyout and venture capital unit.

"We haven't done a lot in China, and we hope that Amvescap's relationships there will help us," Ross, 68, said in a telephone interview. "Likewise there are opportunities in Indonesia and Thailand we haven't taken advantage of."

Martin Flanagan, Atlanta-based Amvescap's chief executive, is trying to bring back clients who deserted the money manager after its funds underperformed rivals and it was charged by regulators with trading abuses.

The company attracted net inflows in the first three months of this year for the first time in four years.

Amvescap manages $414 billion, including $2.3 billion in alternative investments. Flanagan said he and Ross planned to offer new products to investors. They spent two months negotiating the purchase, Amvescap's first of a distressed-investment firm.

"We want to grow WL Ross and take advantage of new opportunities," Flanagan, 46, said in a telephone interview.

WL Ross was founded on April 1, 2000, and has raised $4.5 billion. Its 50 investment professionals have focused on industries such as steel and auto parts that others have shunned.

Ross worked for more than 20 years at Rothschild Inc. in New York, where he was a senior managing director and was anointed the "King of Bankruptcy" by Fortune magazine in 1998.

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