EIM Could Be On The Block

May 29 2012 | 1:22pm ET

In a sign of the troubles facing the fund of hedge funds industry, one of that space's most prominent players may be looking to sell.

Arpad Busson has had talks about selling his EIM to another asset manager as its assets fall and as investors wean themselves off of funds of funds. No deal is imminent, and Busson wants to remain a part of EIM after a sale, but should the Swiss firm go on the block, it will be the latest in a string of deals involving funds of funds as they seek to consolidate to survive.

EIM's assets have fallen by more than half since the financial crisis, before which the firm managed more than US$14 billion. Like many funds of funds, EIM was burned by the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme.

What's more, the whole future of funds of funds appears to be up in the air, as investors increasingly elect to invest in hedge funds directly to cut out the extra layer of fees charged by funds of funds. Those factors have put the squeeze on EIM and its profits.

EIM has more than 100 employees in 10 offices around the world.

In recent months, funds of funds FRM Holdings, Penjing Asset Management and Nexar Capital Group have all been sold.

In addition to his role at EIM, Busson is well-known for his charitable work at his philanthropic foundation, Absolute Return for Kids, and its annual gala dinner in London, as well as for his romantic links to supermodel Elle Macpherson and, more recently, his current girlfriend Uma Thurman. Thurman is currently pregnant with Busson's third child; he and Macpherson had two children.

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