International consultants and asset managers, Frank Russel l, has been sold to a huges US insur-er in an estimated $1bn cash deal.

Every one of the companies 1,400 employees will benefit from the, says George Russell, company chairman, whose family holds 60% of the privately owned business. Russell employees, who hold the remaining 40% will share $400m, an average of $290,000 each. Russell points out that each employee is a shareholder.

The background to the deal was the uncertainty for the business arising from Russell and his wife's 60% stake. "The business would have to be sold to pay US death taxes should we both be hit by a truck," he says.

The company started the exercise 18 months ago and appointed Goldman Sachs as adviser to look at the possibilities, which included an IPO.

Over 60 approaches were examined, which were whittled down to 12, from which Northwestern Mutual, the AAA-rated fourth largest US mutual, with $77bn is assets, emerged as the groom.

Frank Russell is to operate as a stand alone subsidiary to develop its $42bn asset management business built on the manager of manager selection principle, as well as continue its pension fund advisory business. The deal will provide Frank Russell with capital to build up its international distribution network and open the Northwestern's 7,500 agency sales force to handle its products in the US, initially through its life products. Russell says that Northwestern was looking for a way to become involved in money manager products without being tied to one manager, which the deal gives it.