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Afikim Consultant and Investments, the mutual fund management company that <TMC name="ta_israeli_ticker">Migdal Insurance (TASE: MGDL) bought, lost NIS 135 million assets in January 2006, or 5% of its total assets under management.

Afikim falls into the category of a private fund company. It is the only such private asset management company that lost assets in January: all the others posted net recruitment. The fund management companies run by the banks, conversely, lost large amounts, with PKN for instance losing half a billion shekels worth of assets through withdrawals.

But the woe is not new: during November and December 2005 Afikim also watched depositors jump ship. In the space of those two months, it lost NIS 545 million worth of assets, of which most was in December.

The distinction may be due to the fact that Afikim is the only asset management company that changed from private hands to ownership by an insurance company.

In three months Afikim's assets have shrunk by NIS 700 million.

Under the circumstances, Migdal is believed to have asked to lower the price it agreed to pay: NIS 253 million, of which NIS 165 million is in cash.

Afikim's owner and manager, Jacob Weinstein, recently commented that the reason for the withdrawals was the company's heavy focus on funds investing in bonds, as have other funds investing in bonds. He added that unfortunately, the public does not seem to realize he will remain in charge of the funds after the sale to Migdal.