Exclusive: Northwestern Mutual explores sale of Russell Investments - sources

Tue Jan 7, 2014 10:28pm EST
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By Jessica Toonkel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance is exploring a possible sale of its Russell Investments asset management business, which has $247 billion in assets under management, according to four people familiar with the situation

The Milwaukee-based insurer is discussing selling the Russell subsidiary because it has decided it is not a core part of its business, the people said on Tuesday.

All of the sources wished to remain anonymous because they are not permitted to speak to the media.

A Northwestern Mutual spokeswoman declined to comment.

Seattle-based Russell provides pension consulting, investment management, transition management services and indexes such as the Russell 1000 Global Index.

If the firm decides to go ahead with a sale, it is unclear if the business would be sold in its entirety or broken up, two of the sources said.

It could not be determined how much Northwestern would receive if it decides to sell the firm. Northwestern bought Russell, which was then called Frank Russell Company, in 1999 for $1.2 billion.

Russell's roots date back to 1936 when founder Frank Russell established a brokerage firm in Tacoma, Washington. Over the years it has grown as a consultant to pension plans, provider of asset management and in 1984 it introduced its own indexes. Today Russell's indexes have $4.1 trillion in assets benchmarked to them, according to Russell's website.   Continued...