Numeric Investors puts itself up for sale

NEW YORK Fri Mar 8, 2013 4:15pm EST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Numeric Investors is putting itself up for sale, Mike Even, president and chief executive officer of the Boston-based asset management firm told Reuters on Friday.

The quantitative equity manager, with $7.7 billion in assets under management, has hired Barclays PLC (BARC.L) to oversee the sale, Even said.

The firm is coordinating the sale with its private equity partner, TA Associates, which has held a minority stake in Numeric since 2004, Even said.

"We feel now is a good time to sell for us from a returns point of view and for TA for where they are in their investment cycle," Even said.

A call to TA was not immediately returned. A Barclays spokesman declined to comment.

The sales process will be targeted at certain potential buyers, but is now in the "very early stages," he said.

Even implied that the firm is looking for a strategic buyer, as opposed to another private equity investor. Private equity investors traditionally sell companies they invest in after a few years.

"What I really want is a permanent partner and I would like a relationship by which we can maintain our investment focus," Even said.

Numeric, whose clients are institutional investors such as pension plans, specializes in quantitative equity investing, by which managers use models, or screens, to choose stocks for their portfolios.

Quantitative equity managers, like all equity managers, were hit hard by the financial crisis, said Greg Carlson a Morningstar Inc (MORN.O) analyst.

But unlike other equity managers, quant managers have struggled to recover over the past few years because these funds focus on fundamentals, while much of the comeback in equity investing has been due to macroeconomic changes, Carlson said on Friday.

In 2007 Numeric got out of the mutual fund business, closing its four funds, which at the time had $456 million in assets, according to Morningstar.

(Reporting By Jessica Toonkel; editing by Carol Bishopric)

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