The lure of the hedge fund world has ensnared another top mutual fund manager, as

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Oakmark Global co-skipper Greg Jackson decided to join Blum Capital Partners L.P.

The departure is a blow to Oakmark, a stellar value fund shop where Jackson is a partner and a rising star. In a news release, Oakmark said Jackson is leaving to be closer to his family in Utah. The release didn't mention Blum, but a spokesperson confirmed that Jackson has taken a position with the San Francisco hedge fund -- under the agreement with Blum, he will work from Utah, the spokesperson said.

Jackson has co-managed the Oakmark Global fund, which has $711 million in assets, with Michael Welsh since its August 1999 inception. The duo's value-oriented approach has paid off in spades: The fund has notched a one-year return of 49.16% and a three-year average annual return of 21.43%. Both rank in the top 1% of all global funds, according to Morningstar. Clyde McGregor, co-manager of the Oakmark Equity and Income fund, has been named as Jackson's replacement at Oakmark Global.

The mutual fund world's loss is another gain for the hedge fund world, which has drained some of the best brains on Wall Street and in fund complexes over the past few years. The beneficiary in this case is Blum Capital, the value-oriented hedge fund run by Richard Blum, husband of Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic Senator of California.

Jackson will help fill the ranks at Blum following the recent departure of partner Kevin Richardson. Jackson's Buffettesque investment style should fit right in at Blum, which hunts for out-of-favor stocks that appear to be trading at a substantial discount. Indeed, Blum and the Oakmark Global fund's bargain-hunting efforts have turned up some similar holdings, including electronic-processing and ATM concern


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Officials at Blum Capital declined to comment for the story, but an employee of the hedge fund firm confirmed that Richardson no longer works for Blum.

Mutual fund firms have had a difficult time retaining top talent as hedge funds continue to pluck the best skippers from the ranks of




and a host of other firms. Because hedge fund managers receive a fee based on the amount of assets under management plus a substantial percentage of positive returns, the annual salary can range in the seven- and eight-figure territory. Fund managers, meanwhile, typically make about $500,000 to $750,000 a year -- although some stars command seven-figure salaries.

Jackson's departure hardly leaves Oakmark's ranks depleted -- top-shelf managers such as Oakmark Select's Bill Nygren, Oakmark International's David Herro and co-manager Welsh should assure investors that the highly regarded firm remains in good hands. But the departure of an up-and-coming manager with a proven track record still hurts -- and drives home the fact that even an august shop such as Oakmark can't always retain its top talent.