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Crestview looks to sell Munder for up to $400 million: sources

By Jessica Toonkel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Crestview Partners is looking to sell Birmingham, Michigan-based Munder Capital Management in a deal that could be valued at up to $400 million, according to three sources familiar with the situation.

The New York-based private equity firm has hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc to run the sale process, the sources said on Wednesday.

The most likely buyer for Munder will be a fund company that can merge Munder's funds into its own, the sources said.

Crestview and Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

Crestview along with Munder managers bought Munder in 2006 from Comerica Inc for $302 million in a leveraged buyout. Sources estimate the asset management firm, which has $16 billion in assets under management, could be sold for $350 million to $400 million.

During the dot-com boom, Munder was best-known for managing the NetNet Fund, which in 2000 was the largest Internet fund with $11.5 billion in assets.

But after the dot-com industry crashed in the early 2000s, Munder struggled to recover. The firm currently has eight mutual funds with $7 billion in assets, according to Morningstar.

"They have broadened their product line and they were gaining some traction in the marketplace," said Geoff Bobroff, an independent mutual fund consultant. "The difficulty we have seen over the years is these small fund families have a difficult time unless they have outstanding performance in a fund or two and their performance has been fine, but not outstanding."

Five of Munder's seven funds with a five-year track record have outperformed their peers for that period, according to data from Morningstar Inc . Seven of its 10 funds with a one-year track record outperformed their peers for that period.

(Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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