Exclusive: TA considers selling stake in First Eagle - sources

NEW YORK Mon Sep 23, 2013 1:25pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Private equity firm TA Associates is considering selling its minority stake in First Eagle Investment Management, the manager of the First Eagle Mutual Funds, according to three sources familiar with the situation.

Since TA took the stake in the company in 2007, First Eagle's mutual fund assets have almost doubled from around $35 billion to almost $68 billion in assets under management, according to independent investment research company Morningstar Inc (MORN.O).

First Eagle Investment Management overall has $80 billion in assets under management.

TA's stake is around 25 percent, while the majority of the company is owned by the family of John Arnhold, First Eagle's chairman and chief investment officer, sources said. The Arnhold family intends to maintain that stake, the sources said.

While no financial information about the company was available, industry bankers estimate that TA's stake could be worth between $800 million to $1 billion. The sources wished to remain anonymous because they are not permitted to speak to the media.

TA has engaged Bank of America (BAC.N) to help with the discussions, two of the sources said.

Bank of America and First Eagle Investment Management declined to comment. Calls to TA Associates were not returned.

Discussions about a sale are in the very early stages and may not materialize into a sale, the three sources said.

First Eagle's funds have seen strong performance over the past few years. More than half of the firm's seven mutual funds have outperformed their peers for the past one, three and five years, according to Morningstar.

(Reporting by Jessica Toonkel; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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