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Thursday, April 12, 2001

Third Avenue Diversifies

Reported by Alfred Wang

Searching for long term assets, Third Avenue is diversifying its distribution, with a subadvisory deal with American Express. This move is coupled with one that places new emphasis on the subadvisement and annuity channel. The firm is also casting an eye towards the defined contribution marketplace.

The New York City-based value house will co-manage an upcoming American Express fund, the AXP Partners Small Cap Value Fund that will launch in June. The firm, which increased fund assets under management from $1.8 billion in March 2000 to $2.4 billion in January 2001, is seeking out other subadvisement opportunities, subject to compatibility.

"Good firms," explained Joanne Jaffin, director of marketing. "Good distribution, and an [arrangement where] we can work in partnership to co-market the joint product."

Third Avenue also subadvises the SunAmerica Focused Value fund.

The other part of its long-term asset strategy is oriented around the defined contribution play, where Marty Whitman's firm is looking for their share of retirement assets.

"We have been starting to pursue some 401k alliances," said Jaffin, "more to the custodians, like a Citistreet, and some of the smaller trusts and TPA's."

The firm is also fielding calls from interested buyers, although the firm declined to comment on the extent and seriousness of these discussions. 

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