BOSTON — Among the hordes of investors eyeing the "for sale" sign on Putnam Investments, Aquiline Capital Management — with offices a minute's walk from Putnam's Boston headquarters — is probably the best informed, even if its interest in the money manager is largely a matter of nostalgia.
Launched two months ago by Steven Spiegel, a former Putnam vice chairman who left in April 2004; John Brown, Putnam's head of institutional management through June 2004; and Joe Craven, who ran its institutional retirement services business until it was sold at the end of 2004, Aquiline Capital is the money management investment arm of Aquiline Holdings, another entity with Putnam connections.
Aquiline Holdings, New York, was started last year by Jeffrey W. Greenberg, former chief executive officer of Putnam parent Marsh & McLennan Cos. Mr. Greenberg resigned from MMC in October 2004, as the insurer broker moved to settle charges of fraud and anti-competitive practices leveled by New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
Mr. Spiegel, who left Putnam to serve as MMC's director of corporate development through January 2005, declined to rule out Aquiline Capital's potential involvement in a deal for Putnam or other large money managers, insisting the new firm must remain open to considering all opportunities of interest.
But he said the initial focus will be on more bite-size operations — emerging firms, liftouts and "seeding opportunities" — that Aquiline can partner with to build "enterprise value" over the long term.
Aquiline Capital could conceivably have 10 to 12 such partner firms within three years, said Mr. Brown. If the fit were right, "we would be interested in something transformational" as well, but not early on, he said, noting the team can't take on a deal now that would require them to drop all other business "for months."
"We're creating an investment management company as a permanent part of the business mix of Aquiline Holdings," a financial services company that already boasts private equity, wealth advisory and opportunistic real estate arms, said Mr. Spiegel.