F&C’s Second-Biggest Shareholder to Sell Stake in Fund Manager

Achmea BV, the Dutch insurer formerly named Eureko BV, will sell its entire 9.6 percent stake in London-based F&C Asset Management Plc.

The sale of 51.1 million shares, valued at about 35 million pounds ($55 million), is part of the insurer’s policy of reducing risk and will be settled on March 20, Achmea said in a statement today.

The decision “has no effect on Achmea’s relationship with F&C Asset Management as one of Achmea’s principal asset managers,” the company said in the statement.

Activist investor Edward Bramson, founder of Sherborne Investors LLC, replaced Nick MacAndrew as chairman of F&C in February 2010 after building a 20 percent stake in the fund manager. Achmea, F&C’s largest shareholder behind Sherborne, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, rejected Bramson’s bid to become chairman last year and instead backed the existing management. F&C was an wholly owned unit of Achmea until 2004.

F&C’s stock dropped 6.6 percent to 68.2 pence in London trading, the biggest one-day fall since October.

Stefan Kloet, a spokesman for Zeist, Netherlands-based Achmea, said the sale of its F&C stake fits with a policy of reducing risk. Achmea has cut back its equity holdings and increased its investments in government bonds of AAA-rated countries in particular, he said.

An F&C spokesman, Jason Hollands, declined to comment.

Bramson, who previously criticized the firm’s costs, debt level and acquisitions, overhauled the board and is seeking to move F&C back to its roots as a manager of assets for institutions such as insurance companies.

About 60 percent of F&C’s 100 billion pounds of assets under management belong to its four biggest clients, including Achmea. The fund manager said today its 2011 net loss narrowed to 500,000 pounds, compared with 16.6 million pounds a year earlier.

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