Janus executives have been planning a management buyout since last summer, when they hired Morgan Stanley to handle the deal, a source told Fortune magazine.

But improving fundamentals at Janus - better fund performance, the first positive inflows in 2-1/2 years and decent third-quarter earnings - combined with speculation over the buyout itself have pushed the value of the stock to the $20 range, $3 above the $17 target price the executives were counting on. When discussions on the buyout began, Janus was trading at $15. Its reached a low of $13 at the end of April, a far cry from its $54 peak in the fall of 2000.

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