Artisan Partners moves toward IPO

Artisan Partners (APAM) Asset Management filed a preliminary prospectus with the SEC, the company's first official step toward issuing an IPO.

The filing on Wednesday didn't specify an anticipated share price range, or what percentage of the Milwaukee-based equity manager's equity would be offered to the public. Citigroup and Goldman Sachs were listed as lead underwriters.

Artisan spokesman Michael Roos declined any comment beyond what was included in the company's S-1 filing.

According to the filing, one motivation for Artisan to become a public company is “to preserve our independence by putting in place a process for existing owners to realize the value of their equity over a structured time frame.”

Artisan will use the proceeds of the IPO to repay a portion of the firm's outstanding debt, to purchase some of the interests held in the firm by “certain of our initial outside investors,” and for “general corporate purposes,” according to the prospectus.

The prospectus says initial outside investors in the firm, which was founded in 1994, include current and former members of private equity firm Hellman & Friedman and a venture capital fund managed by Sutter Hill Ventures. In May 2006, Hellman & Friedman took a minority stake in Artisan as part of a recapitalization of the firm.

The prospectus cites maintaining the firm's “equity ownership culture” and establishing “a simple mechanism for sharing ownership among value producing employees” as additional reasons for a listing. As of Dec. 31, 46 of Artisan's 237 employees were partners of the firm.

Artisan's assets under management at the end of 2010 totaled $57.5 billion, up 23% from the year before, on the strength of $3.4 billion in net client inflows and $7.3 billion in market gains, according to the prospectus.

The firm reported 2010 net income of $42.5 million, down 12% from the year before. Revenue, meanwhile, came to $382.3 million, up 29% from the year before.