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Rating:A Woman-Owned Mutual Fund Shop Gains an Acquisitive Ally Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Friday, March 6, 2015

A Woman-Owned Mutual Fund Shop Gains an Acquisitive Ally

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

A New York City-based asset manager just invested in a woman-owned mutual fund shop and is on the hunt for more deals.

On Monday Lebenthal Asset Management closed a deal where LAM and Alexandra Lebenthal (CEO of LAM parent Lebenthal Holdings, LLC) each bought minority stakes in nearby AH Lisanti Capital Growth, LLC [profile]. Mary Lisanti remains president, chief investment officer, and majority owner of her firm, though it will now operate under the Lebenthal Lisanti Capital Growth, LLC brand.

Lebenthal says she's "very interested in doing other transactions" along these lines. This is the firm's first mutual fund play.

"We have acquired other asset managers already," Lebenthal tells MFWire. "There is a real opportunity to create a powerhouse with women-owned managers."

Lebenthal Holdings traces its routes to 1925, when husband and wife Louis and Sayra Lebenthal (grandparents of Alexandra) founded Lebenthal & Co., what the company calls "the original bond business." Alexandra took over as president in 1995. The firm was sold twice, first to Advest in 2001 and then to Merrill Lynch in 2005, after which Alex and her father, Jim Lebenthal, left the company. They co-founded Lebenthal Holdings in 2006 to offer wealth management to the group they call the "lost affluent", and LAM was launched the next year.

As for Lisanti, she started her career as a small cap analyst. She later led Bankers Trust's small/mid cap investment team, won fund manager of the year from Barron's in 1996, and later served as chief investment officer of ING Investments (now Voya Investment Management). In 2003 she teamed up with Adams Harkness & Hill and launched AH Lisanti Capital Growth. As of December 31, 2014, AH Lisanti managed $290 million in assets, and its four-star mutual fund, now called the Lebenthal Lisanti Small Cap Growth Fund, now holds $24.7 million.

Lisanti says that the alliance with Lebenthal will give her access to "greater marketing resources," as well as distribution through Lebenthal's own wealth management arm. And Lebenthal will also take over more of the back-office and administrative duties for Lisanti.

"This is a four-star fund that we really haven't marketed," Lisanti tells MFWire. "It's really just a question of getting out there and telling the story."

"It's an exciting opportunity, a good opportunity not only for both our firms but for our clients," Lisanti adds.

Looking ahead, Lisanti foresees launching a mutual fund version of a smid (small/mid-cap) strategy that she already offers in separate account form. And she points to global small cap as another area of product development interest. 

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