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Funds Buy Access To the Wealth Market

If fund companies aren't building private wealth management products, they are buying them. A look at some of the recent acquisitions in the fund industry finds that the companies acquired are, in many cases, wealth management firms. And in doing so, mutual funds appear fearful of losing their luster to hedge funds, managed accounts, wrap programs and other wealth products.

This past summer, Legg Mason acquired Private Capital Management, a Naples, Fla-based wealth manager, for roughly $1.4 billion. The deal was Legg Mason's third acquisition of a high-net-worth shop this year.

OppenheimerFunds also got into the act with its acquisition of Tremont Advisers, a hedge fund firm based in Rye, NY. OppenheimerFunds' newly appointed CEO, John Murphy, told The Financial Times shortly after the acquisition that his first and second priorities as CEO are to expand the company's separate account and hedge fund businesses, respectively.