Hellman is said to be interested in Gartmore's $6.3 billion of hedge fund assets, particularly as hedge funds carry high fees and are increasingly in popularity.
"The move into hedge funds has done a lot to help them," commented Ian Brimecone, an investment banker at Fox-Pitt, Kelton. He called the hedge fund business that Gartmore has built "substantial."
Gartmore's parent company, Nationwide Mutual Life Insurance, put the company up for sale last year. However, Nationwide will retain Gartmore's U.S. fund unit. Nationwide bought Gartmore in 2000 from Royal Bank of Scotland Group.