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Rating:Capital Groups Secrets May Slip Out Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Friday, October 14, 2005

Capital Groups Secrets May Slip Out

by: Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

Those who want some inside details of the Capital Group and its American Funds may get some thanks to a divorce suit. The case involves Timothy D. Armour, portfolio manager for Capital International Global Discovery fund. Armour (who is not to be confused with a Morningstar executive of the same name) is also an executive vice president and director of Capital Research and Management Company, where he has worked since 1983.

The event shaking the information out of the tight-lipped money manager, is a divorce Armour initiated against Nina Ritter in 2003, reports the Los Angeles Times. The paper cited Ritter as one of its sources along with unnamed friends.

The divorce trial is to start on Monday in a Los Angeles court.

One of the key issues, Ritter told the Times, is about 50,000 shares of Capital stock she and Ritter hold in a trust created in 1991. She told the paper that Capital's "has indicated that they want to redeem my portion of the stock" as part of the divorce. Those shares are worth "tens of millions of dollars" believes Ritter.

Ritter wants to hold onto the stock after the divorce because of its strong growth. She expects the stock to continue appreciating at a 12 percent annual clip, a return she does not believe she can match with another investment. Since there is no market for the stock, Capital sets the price of the shares when partners sell.

Capital is expected to argue that Ritter must sell the stock under the terms of a stockholders agreement both she and Armour signed when they took receipt of the stock. Under that agreement, only current employees of the firm may hold shares.

It is also taking the unusual step having its lawyers at Latham & Watkins ask Judge John Sandoz to "cloak" the proceedings and restrict access information it submits to the court. That request raises constitutional issues, according to the paper.

Ritter is seeking details of how Capital sets its share price as part of the divorce and may call Capital executives as witnesses. She is also including Capital's stock agreements with partners, share price schedules and a summary of shareholders' stakes among her exhibits.

"For me this is a matter of principle," she told the LA Times. "I just want them [Capital] to be part of the public domain" in the case.  

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