BrightSphere seeks sale of private equity investment business: sources

NEW YORK (Reuters) - BrightSphere Investment Group BSIG.N is exploring a sale of its majority stake in Landmark Partners, a private equity fund investment firm that could be worth around $1 billion, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The move underscores a push by BrightSphere's largest shareholder, hedge fund Paulson & Co, to boost returns on its investment, after negotiations to sell BrightSphere to Italian financial firm Assicurazioni Generali GASI.MI earlier this year failed to produce a deal.

BrightSphere has hired a financial adviser to work on a sale process for its 60% stake in Landmark, which specializes in buying and selling stakes in private equity and real estate funds, the sources said, cautioning that no deal is certain. The remaining 40% stake in Landmark is owned by its management.

The sources requested anonymity because the matter is confidential. BrightSphere declined to comment, while Landmark did not respond to a request for comment.

Boston-based BrightSphere had $185 billion in assets under management as of the end of September. The firm is a holding company for six asset management brands. It has a market capitalization of $1.3 billion.

BrightSphere also held informal talks with interested parties in the summer about selling its quant manager Acadian, but it did not pursue a deal, the sources said. In July, it announced it would divest two investment businesses for $335 million in after-tax proceeds.

Paulson & Co bought a 25% stake in BrightSphere in 2018 from Chinese conglomerate HNA Group. The head of the hedge fund, John Paulson, was elevated to chairman of BrightSphere in April.

Reporting by David French in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis