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Whitman Hands Third Avenue Value Fund Reins to Co-Manager Lapey

Martin J. Whitman, founder of Third Avenue Management LLC, stepped down as co-manager of the firm’s flagship fund, handing the reins to Ian Lapey.

Lapey, 45, will run the $3.4 billion Third Avenue Value Fund alone after co-managing it with Whitman since 2009, the company said today in a statement. Whitman, 87, who was manager of the fund since its opening in 1990, will remain as chairman of the New York-based company’s fund complex and run a new concentrated value fund for accredited investors, according to the statement.

“I have the utmost confidence in Ian and the entire Third Avenue team, and my family and I will remain significant shareholders in the Third Avenue Value Fund,” Whitman said in the statement.

The Value Fund has suffered poor performance and withdrawals in recent years. While up 15 percent this year, the fund has lost an average 3.7 percent annually in the past five years, trailing 94 percent of rivals, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Assets have dropped from $10.4 billion in February 2007.

Whitman said in 2006 that Lapey would succeed him as the fund’s manager when he retired. Whitman stepped down as co-chief investment officer of Third Avenue Management in 2010.

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