CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. — Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.'s recent hiring of Morgan Stanley to review options for its Gartmore asset management unit has market watchers trying to divine whether the Gartmore name is looking at its second IPO in 12 years or its fifth new owner.
The answer will be of particular interest to President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Hondros, the industry veteran Nationwide tapped in 1999 to build its asset management operations.
If Nationwide opts to sell Gartmore — or even the U.K. half of the organization that houses its attractive hedge fund operations — "where does that leave Paul?" asked one ex-Gartmore veteran, who requested anonymity.
Mr. Hondros declined to comment.
As of Sept. 30, Gartmore Group had $84.2 billion in assets under management. The U.S. arm, Conshohocken-based Gartmore Global Investments, had $43.9 billion of that total, and London-based Gartmore Investment Management PLC had $40.3 billion, said spokeswoman Katie Cowley. (When Nationwide Mutual bought Gartmore in May 2000, the London arm alone had more than $85 billion under management.)
Some industry analysts have praised Mr. Hondros' efforts at revamping Gartmore's product lineup. The Gartmore name had long been known as a top U.K. manager of balanced funds even as demand for specialist managers was growing.