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Investec Seeks Acquisitions

Acquisitions, product consolidation, a shift to outsourcing--it's all part of the plan for Investec's U.S. investment management unit, said its managing director, Royce Brennan.

Brennan was brought in from Hong Kong last October to replace Jim Atkinson, who left the firm for MaxFunds, an online rater of small and new funds. Asked to to revamp the firm's fund business, Brennan was handed seven no-load funds and soon realized that the direct sales model wouldn't cut the mustard.

Investec's U.S. arm has about $250 million in its U.S. funds and about the same in offshore assets.

In short order, he and executive director put together a plan to convert to a load model and build a sales and marketing structure to support the broker-sold funds and improve profitability.

Everything, said Brennan, has been progressing on track, although the timing of the firm's recent plans to merge its seven funds into four has appeared suspiciously market-related. The firm filed proxy statements late last month seeking to merge two of its Internet funds and its Asia New Economy Fund with other Investec funds.

But Brennan said it's all part of the plan. "I can show you the page it's written on in the business plan," Brennan said."We put that together nearly a year ago."