Morgan May Seek Partner for Van Kampen

Instead of selling the Van Kampen mutual fund business, Morgan Stanley may pursue a strategic partnership, a report says.
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NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- Speculation continued to mount on Wednesday over

Morgan Stanley's

(MS) - Get Report

plans for its Van Kampen mutual fund business, with a report that the firm may seek a joint venture rather than sell it outright.

The Wall Street firm has reportedly been shopping around Van Kampen to several interested buyers because of competitive pressures. But instead of selling Van Kampen, Morgan Stanley may pursue a strategic partnership, perhaps similar to that of

BlackRock

(BLK) - Get Report

and

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

, according to a report in the

Wall Street Journal

, citing anonymous sources.

Morgan Stanley would then be able to maintain a minority interest but allow a more experienced retail-fund manager to cope with Van Kampen's problems. Morgan Stanley is more focused on another joint venture -- a majority stake of high-net-worth brokerage Smith Barney, which it bought from

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

earlier this year.

Van Kampen manages under $100 billion in assets, a fraction of what larger firms like BlackRock,

Fidelity

or

Prudential

run. It lost money last year during market stress and has had net outflows for 10 quarters.

Van Kampen has traded hands several times throughout its history, and is now valued at about $1 billion, the

Journal

said. The estimate is not much more than what Morgan Stanley paid to acquire the business 13 years ago.

Potential partners in the deal could include

Invesco

(IVZ) - Get Report

,

Franklin Resources

(BEN) - Get Report

,

Aberdeen Asset Management

,

Federated Investors

(FII) - Get Report

and

Nuveen Investments

, the

Journal

said.

-- Written by Lauren Tara LaCapra in New York

.

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