Rydex Near a Sale

Bidders are E*Trade and Invesco, <I>TheStreet.com</I> has learned.
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Rydex Investments, a fund firm with some $16 billion in assets under management, is near a deal to sell itself for about $800 million to $1 billion,


has learned.

Rydex could be sold to either

E*Trade Financial

(ETFC) - Get Report



(IVZ) - Get Report

, according to people familiar with Rydex.

Rumors have floated about a possible sale of the mutual and ETF manager over the past few years since its founder, Skip Viragh, died of pancreatic cancer in 2004. Followers of the company say a sale announcement is expected imminently.

A spokeswoman at Rydex says the fund company is still owned by the Viragh family and declined to comment further. Rydex is run by CEO Carl Verboncoeur.

A message left with an E*Trade spokesman was not returned, nor was a call to a spokesman at Invesco.

Founded in 1993, the closely held Rockville, Md.-based investment management company manages more than 80 mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.

Not solely a conduit for day traders, online brokerage houses such as E*Trade and

TD Ameritrade

(AMTD) - Get Report

have been adding a wider array of services and products in an attempt to lure more investors. Last year E*Trade agreed to acquire Dallas-based Retirement Advisors of America to enhance its growing wealth management services business.

E*Trade has been indirectly tied to other merger talk. Alternative investment funds Jana Partners and SAC Capital have agitated for a merger of TD Ameritrade with either

Charles Schwab

(SCHW) - Get Report

or E*Trade. Ameritrade has said it would be "deliberate" in making any strategic moves.

Global investment management company Invesco, which recently changed its name from Amvescap, has some $491 billion in assets under management.

Additional details about the deal, including financial advisers involved, could not be learned.