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Third Avenue Sees Assets Fall 21% in Quarter as Investors Flee

  • Equity funds hit with outflows after credit fund frozen
  • Biggest withdrawals experienced by firm's real estate fund

Third Avenue Management, which took the rare step of freezing redemptions in a distressed debt mutual fund last month, saw investors also pull money from its equity funds, contributing to a 21 percent decline in the firm’s assets last quarter.

Third Avenue managed $6.3 billion as of Dec. 31, down from $8 billion as of Sept. 30, Daniel Gagnier, a spokesman, said in an e-mail. Investors withdrew an estimated $720 million, or almost 13 percent of total assets, from Third Avenue’s four equity mutual funds in December, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The firm shuttered its $788.5 million Focused Credit Fund after losses and withdrawals left it unable to meet redemptions without selling assets at fire-sale prices. News of Third Avenue’s move triggered a selloff in high-yield bonds and stock markets as fears grew that a collapse in the speculative-grade market could cause a global contagion.

Third Avenue, which was founded in 1986 by well-known value investor Martin Whitman, oversaw $26 billion in 2006. The firm has been shedding assets since before the 2008 financial crisis, hurt by poor performance and an exodus of managers.

The firm’s largest fund, the $2.8 billion Third Avenue Real Estate Fund, experienced redemptions of $495 million in December, according to Bloomberg data. Investors also pulled $158 million from the $1.4 billion Third Avenue Value Fund. The $337 million Third Avenue Small-Cap Value Fund and the $146 million Third Avenue International Value Fund also suffered redemptions.

Third Avenue on Dec. 16 received approval from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to temporarily suspend shareholder withdrawals. Gagnier, the spokesman, declined to comment on the redemptions.

All U.S. actively managed stock funds and exchange-traded funds had redemptions of $108 billion in the first 11 months of 2015, according to Morningstar Inc.

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