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America's Biggest Money Managers - Who Says It Doesn't Grow on Trees?

Vibrant market conditions and ample liquidity helped firms in the II300 ranking of America's top money managers yield bountiful results.

Money may not grow on trees, but a little water — okay, liquidity — never hurts. With the world a wash in funds that investors are eager to put to work, few companies have benefited more or found it easier to pros-per than investment management firms. And no wonder: Assets under management at America’s 300 biggest money managers, the Institutional Investor 300, grew a smart 16.9 percent in 2006, to reach $31.1trillion. That was nearly twice the rate of growth in 2005 and marks an increase of two thirds from five years ago, when the II300 managed $18.6 trillion. The minimum required to make this elite group continued to climb sharply: The smallest firm on our list, NewYork hedge fund manager Eton Park, reported assets of $6.3 billion, an entry hurdle that is $1.1 billion higher than in the previous year.

Leading the way for a third straight year is Barclays Global Investors, powered by strong investor demand for the firm’s enhanced index products, its exchange-traded funds and, more broadly, its alternative-asset offerings. At year-end San Francisco–based BGI managed $1.8 trillion, up 19.9 percent from 2005. “Our business was strong in 2006, with net new asset growth of approximately $68billion,” says CEO Blake Grossman.

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