Coller Capital, a big London private-equity firm, is the prospective buyer for up to $1 billion in assets that hedge fund Ritchie Capital is planning to sell.

Earlier this month, Ritchie, a $2.8 billion fund founded by former star college football player A.R. Thane Ritchie, announced it had found a buyer for the assets of its flagship Multistrategy Global Fund. The name of the buyer wasn't announced at the time.

But sources say it is Coller, which also has an office in New York. A spokesman for Ritchie declined to comment. A Coller spokeswoman wasn't immediately available for comment.

A final deal could be announced early next year, people say.

Ritche informed its investors of a possible deal in an email earlier this month. The asset sale comes after two years of lackluster returns for Ritchie's main fund and a long negotiation with its investors to keep them from pulling out their money.

Last year, Ritchie began negotiating with its investors to prevent them from pulling money from the Multistrategy fund. The negotiations began after Ritchie unilaterally tried to change its rules on investor redemptions. Two months ago, it appeared Ritchie and the investors had reached a deal that that would permit the Multistrategy fund to keep operating as planned. But then prospective buyers for the fund's assets emerged.

Coller Capital specializes in private equity "secondaries,'' meaning purchases stakes in privaet equity funds from initial investors. Coller also acquires portfolio holdings from other investors.

Coller was launched in 1990 by Jermey Coller. Today, it has about 150 institutional investors and more than $5 billion under management.

Historically, the market for private equity secondaries has been viewed as a distressed investor market.

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