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Capital Business
Posted at 11:42 AM ET, 05/31/2012

FBR considers whether to sell its asset management business

Eric Bilings, chairman of FBR & Co., in his Arlington office. Billings has announced he will be leaving the firm next month. (Evy Mages - For The Washington Post)
Arlington-based investment bank FBR & Co. is working with an outside adviser to evaluate the sale of a portion or all of its asset management business, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

The company, which could not be reached for comment, handles a range of investment products, including mutual funds, as part of its asset management business.

In the previous quarter, the division logged $4 million in revenue, up from $3.9 million a year earlier. Its assets under management during the first quarter increased 11.8 percent to $1.9 billion.

At the time, FBR chief executive Richard Hendrix said, “We continue to look for ways to capi­tal­ize on the stellar long-term performance and extensive client relationships this business possesses.”

Though FBR posted revenue growth, as a whole securities firms have witnessed a drop in commissions. According to data complied by Greenwich Associates, the industry took in $10.9 billion in fees last year from asset managers, the lowest commissions from equities trading since 2006.

In recent years, FBR has shed low performing businesses and reduced head count to ensure the health and viability of the company.

For example, the company exited its prime brokerage business in March 2011 amid weakening conditions in the market. The company has reduced its head count by 120 employees since January 2009, while subleasing nearly a third of the 98,417 square feet of space it has under contract at 1001 N. 19th St. in Arlington.

All of these moves have helped the firm stem losses amid tepid financial recovery. FBR generated earnings of $438,000 in the first quarter, compared to a net loss of $1.9 million a year earlier.

By  |  11:42 AM ET, 05/31/2012

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