Strong Capital Management, the investment adviser to the Strong Funds, has laid off nearly five percent of its 1,150-employee work force. Officials said that the firm eliminated 51 positions throughout the company. The layoffs marked the first in the company's 25-year history.

Dick Strong, the company's founder, announced the move in a letter to employees dated Nov. 17. "If we are to ... remain a strong and competitive company, we have to become a more productive, a hungrier, and a flatter company," Strong wrote. Strong said the reductions would be made throughout the firm.

Mutual fund companies have been slowing and in some cases freezing hiring since September due to volatile markets and erratic investor demand for equity funds.

Strong has approximately $31 billion in assets under management, with about $25 billion of that in mutual funds. A spokesperson for the company said the layoffs were not part of an effort to prepare Strong for a sale and there are no plans to sell the company .

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