The asset management division of Close Brothers Group plc, the independent British merchant bank, today announces the acquisition, subject to regulatory approval, of a majority stake in Fortune Group, the London-based hedge fund manager.

Founded in 1996, Fortune manages approximately US$ 800 million in a range of single and multi-manager products, for private wealth management groups, insurance companies, banks and pension funds, and has advisory mandates for substantial additional hedge fund assets.

Jonathan Sieff, CEO of Close Asset Management said, "Alternative investments are a major growth area for us.  Hedge funds are an important and fast growing element within this area and Fortune gives us an exceptionally talented team, excellent relationships and a strong track record to build on. It is no secret that Close is committed to building a high growth asset management platform and the acquisition of Fortune is another component in that commitment.  Fortune will sit within the Close Investments stable, our multi-asset class, multi-manager investment business led by Rufus Warner.”

As part of the transaction the current management shareholders of Fortune will retain a significant equity stake in the firm. They include founders Simon Hopkins, a former investment banker who funded the start-up in 1996, and Richard Tarvin, the head of research at Global Fund Analysis, now a wholly-owned research and advisory subsidiary. The team also includes CIO Nancy Curtin, who held senior roles at Barings and Schroders, and legendary hedge fund investor, Jack Schwager, a former Wall Street futures professional who wrote the bestselling 'Market Wizards' trilogy. Jonathan Sieff, Rufus Warner, and Fortune’s current Chairman, Mark Ebert will join the new board of Fortune.

Rufus Warner, CEO of Close Investments said, “Fortune strengthens our presence in the hedge fund and fund of hedge funds space and it complements our existing alternative investment product range. I look forward to working with Simon and his team to build on the Close tradition of developing excellent and innovative products and services.”

Simon Hopkins, CEO, Fortune Group commented:  "We are delighted to be joining Close. They have a proven and successful track record of supporting and growing businesses like ours and I am confident this structure will ensure Fortune continues to develop its market leading offer."

Enquiries:

Rufus Warner
Chief Executive
Close Investments
020 7426 4000

Simon Hopkins
Chief Executive
Fortune Group
020 7355 2000

Rupert Young
Brunswick Group LLP
020 7404 5959
 
Notes to editors:

1. Close Asset Management had funds under management of £7.7bn at 31st January 2006, of which approximately half will be in alternative investments after this transaction (including private equity, property, tax-mitigation, structured funds and over $1bn of hedge funds).

2. Fortune (www.fortune.co.uk) offers:

a) a full complement of multi-manager vehicles spanning the risk/reward spectrum and available in a range of currency classes, including: the S&P AA-rated Market Wizards Fund, one of the better performing market neutral funds since its launch in November 2001; Fortune Horizon, a balanced multi-strategy fund of hedge funds, and Fortune Equity Hedge which comprises a basket of predominantly long/short equity managers;

b) a range of single manager funds across strategies encompassing relative value, credit and opportunistic. The firm provides feeder funds into the best of the managers that are a product of an innovative emerging manager program. Advisors to Fortune Funds include US-based hedge funds Lumen, Glenrock, Muzinich and Geneva based Argos Managers;

c) bespoke portfolio management services to leading financial institutions.
Detailed due diligence on all of the funds in Fortune portfolios is available to investors through a state of the art, customised information management extranet, FortuneNet, which has been constructed specifically to manage customised accounts.