Kayne Anderson Rudnick Investment Management LLC, the mutual fund and money management shop co-founded by local business titan John Anderson in 1984, is rumored to be up for sale.

The Century City-based finance house has had several great years on Wall Street, though the last one hasn't been as sweet. Assets have swelled to $7 billion at latest count (end of third quarter), up from less than $100 million at the start of the 1990s and $1.64 billion in 1995.

The most interested suitor is said to be Phoenix Investment Partners Ltd., a unit of Phoenix Cos. Inc., a large insurer based in Hartford, Conn.

Ralph Walter, Kayne Anderson's chief operating officer, chose not to use the words "for sale," in describing his firm's prospects.

"I would say that Kayne Andersen is not up for sale, but that we have had, and will continue to have discussions (with potential buyers) and that we have retained Putnam Lovell."

Putnam Lovell, part of Putnam Lovell Securities Inc., is a Rolling Hills Estates-based investment bank and advisory firm that specializes in mutual fund company mergers and acquisitions. Additionally, Walter confirmed that Kayne Anderson has had continuing discussions with Phoenix Investment Partners Ltd.

In addition to the mutual fund business, there is Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors LLC, a hedge and arbitrage shop, which operates under the same roof. Walter said that while the two outfits share space, they are separate businesses, and the "non-traditional" hedge shop probably would not be part of any possible sale.

Rare Result

It is rare for a securities class-action suit to actually go to trial, and rarer yet for plaintiffs to win back more than pennies on the dollar. But David Lefkowitz, partner in the Santa Monica-based law firm Wilshire Palisades Group, successfully concluded a case in late October against Olde Discount Corp. brokerage, which paid investors 115 percent of losses, or $21 million.

"I only took this case five years ago because I was young and immoderate," Lefkowitz said last week. "I spent $215,000 of my own money on the case, and, of course, a major portion of five years professionally. It wasn't a wise investment, but I guess it worked out."

It helped that the Feds were knocking on the same door.

Lefkowitz, representing a class of roughly 2,000 investors, alleged in an Arizona state court that Olde Discount pushed clients into about 200 specially selected stocks in which the brokerage had taken a position. He said the brokerage told investors they could buy brokerage-recommended small capitalization stocks "commission free."

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