Northwestern Mutual considers sale of Russell Investments

Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. Inc. confirmed that it is exploring “strategic alternatives,” including a potential sale, of its majority ownership in Russell Investments.

The Seattle-based subsidiary has $256 billion in assets under management and 1,800 employees in 21 offices across the country, including downtown Milwaukee. It provides pension consulting, investment management, transition management services and indices such as the Russell 1000 Global Index.

According to a report by Reuters, Russell is no longer a core part of Northwestern Mutual’s business, which is why the sale has been proposed. The insurance company purchased Russell Investments, then known as Frank Russell Co., in 1999 for $1.2 billion.

Because Russell is currently going through significant growth and development, Northwestern Mutual is weighing its options. A sale could generate “attractive returns” for policy owners, the company said in a statement.

“Russell operates with a high degree of autonomy and has generated strong profits toward Northwestern Mutual’s financial results over the years,” the company said. “Russell is well-positioned in its industry, has a unique and recognizable worldwide brand, and (a) strong management team.”

Northwestern Mutual is just beginning the evaluation process, which it expects will take months. Russell will continue to be a preferred fund partner in the company’s retail investment platform, the company said.

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