A Chi-Town Team Crowns Their First Fund Merger
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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

A Chi-Town Team Crowns Their First Fund Merger

An Illinois team just did their first fund merger deal, expanding one of their mutual funds while adding another PM to their team.

Eric Charles Kuby
North Star Investment Management
Chief Investment Officer
Over the weekend, Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Regal Investment Advisors' Regal Total Return Fund merged into Chicago-based North Star Investment Management's [profile] North Star Opportunity Fund, North Star chief investment officer Eric Kuby confirms. The deal boosted the North Star fund's AUM by about $40 million to $122.5 million in total, and North Star also brought Regal's chief investment officer, Jim Tassoni, on board at North Star as a PM.

John Kailunas, founder and CEO of Regal, did not immediately return a call for comment.

Looking ahead, Kuby confirms that the North Star team is open to doing more deals in the future, especially if they find "other perfect fits" for their existing funds. In addition to Opportunity, an asset allocation fund, employee-owned North Star also offers a bond fund, a dividend fund, and a micro cap fund. As of December 31 (i.e. before the Regal deal), North had about $1.3 billion in AUM, including more than $240 million in its four mutual funds.

"We see the value of this type of transaction, of taking niche funds and putting them together," Kuby tells MFWire.

Meanwhile, the North Star Opportunity Fund is now PMed by Kuby, Tassoni, and North Star's chief equity strategist, Brad Cohen.

"We've got a really nice group of people managing the fund now," Kuby says.

North Star has worked together with Regal Financial Group (which includes Regal Investment Advisors) for several years, and Kuby has even been on Regal's investment committee. Regal Investment Advisors, an RIA with 110 FAs across 23 states and $1.25 billion in assets (as of November 30) also has a sister broker-dealer, Regulus Advisors.

Kuby describes North Star's Regal deal as "a very natural fit" that helps with scale and more and notes that the two funds both have similar value equity investing strategies. The two teams had been working on the deal "for quite a while," he says.

"It was longer and harder than we thought, but we're really happy to be where we are," Kuby says. "We're very excited."

Kuby also praised Gemini, North Star's mutual fund back office ally. (Gemini recently merged with Ultimus.)

"Gemini does a great job," Kuby says. "The whole Gemini team was really, really helpful ... with the fund merger."

Editor's Note: A prior version of this story misrepresented Jim Tassoni's current roles. He is a PM at North Star and CIO of Regal Investment Advisors.

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