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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Two to Three Deals Per Year: a Multi-Boutique's Target

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

A multi-boutique mutual fund shop is aiming to do two to three deals per year.

Last month San Francisco-based WHV Investments [profile] unveiled the WHV/Acuity Tactical Credit Long/Short Fund. The new fund is powered by Acuity Capital Management of Greenwich, Connecticut, WHV's third boutique ally added since the fourth quarter of 2013. WHV also took a minority stake in Acuity. Expect more deals to follow, as the WHV team sees a target-rich environment.

"Two to three a year's the goal," Scott Blankenship, managing director and head of intermediary sales and distribution at WHV, tells MFWire. "We're probably seeing a hundred deals a year ... We're having a hard time narrowing it down."

WHV likes "undiscovered boutiques ... younger investment teams that are just hitting their stride," Blankenship says, not teams who are looking to just cash out and retire. In terms of investing styles, he points to small cap, international, global infrastructure, and income-oriented strategies as particularly of interest for WHV.

"We're looking for high active share," Blankenship says. "We want there to be an alpha opportunity."

WHV's first boutique subadvisor, Seizert, is independent of WHV. Yet WHV took minority stakes in both Acuity and in EAM, its second boutique subadvisor.

"That's the preference," Blankenship says of WHV taking minority stakes in its subadvisors. He adds that WHV also preferred leaving "the majority of the economics with the investment team."

WHV is backed by private equity shop Northern Lights Capital Group, whom Blankenship describes as "very well-connected" and the source of many leads, including Acuity's introduction to WHV. WHV now works with $8 billion and offers five mutual funds in total, and Blankenship expects to launch two more subadvised funds in 2015.

"We're done manufacturing products," Blankenship says.

As for Acuity, they run what Blankenship describes as "a pretty successful hedge fund strategy." And the subadvisor already manages components of two multi-manager 40 Act products, one from Wilmington Trust and one from Sandalwood.

"They have familiarity with the retail ins and outs," Blankenship says. "We are finding demand from advisors for pure play into the credit long/short side." 

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