It's a typical quant shop: A group of mostly young, technologically inclined managers, with small egos and a decidedly casual, collegial air. And, that's exactly what John Freeman sought to preserve when he bought his company, Investment Research Co., Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., back from Old Mutual plc, Cape Town, South Africa.
Terms were undisclosed.
Mr. Freeman said he is excited to again have full control of the company, once an affiliate of United Asset Management Corp. Senior staff of the quant shop, now known as Freeman Associates Investment Management LLC, soon will enjoy a partnership arrangement, although Mr. Freeman will remain sole owner.
Freeman Associates manages about $2 billion for 30 clients in seven strategies, three of which debuted last year. And that's just about where Mr. Freeman and his staff of 15 want to stay.
"We're scalable because of the systematic nature of how we invest. We could get bigger, but staying at this size is more or less part of our corporate culture," Mr. Freeman said. "This is kind of an Internet thing to say, but I like our space as a highly staffed, research-intensive firm where everyone in the firm knows every client."
Those 30 clients seem happy with Mr. Freeman's decision to end the uncertainty over ownership, since Investment Research wasn't among the firms Old Mutual placed on its integrated investment platform and, therefore, was vulnerable to a selloff.
"I think our clients responded well to this move as sort of the American way - an expression of independent, entrepreneurial spirit. They all approved of the decision to buy the company back," Mr. Freeman said. With regard to investments, there will be no changes in the firm's style or operations, Mr. Freeman stressed.