The History of Van Kampen Investments

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* 1927...Was a Year of Milestones
* Surviving the Great Depression
* Growing with a Country
* A Future Partner
* A Merger of Equals
* Van Kampen Investments Today

1927...Was a Year of Milestones
Charles Lindbergh and "The Spirit of St. Louis" thrilled the world with a record-breaking solo flight across the Atlantic. Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs for the New York Yankees. Jazz maestro Duke Ellington debuted at the Cotton Club. And on Wall Street, the stock market soared like never before.

Eager to be part of the action, 28-year-old Kenneth Stevens Van Strum moved to New York City late in 1927 and established Van Strum Financial Service, an investment-counseling firm, at 730 Fifth Avenue.

An economist with a master’s degree in business from Harvard, Van Strum had already made a name for himself as a columnist in Barron’s and as the author of two respected books on stock-market trends. Van Strum did not know that his one-man firm would eventually evolve into one of the oldest and largest investment management firms in the United States.

Surviving the Great Depression
Just two years after Van Strum launched his business, the U.S. stock market plummeted on October 29, 1929—Black Monday. As the Great Depression progressed, millions of Americans lost their jobs; others saw their investments and savings disappear almost overnight.

Despite the bleak national economic picture, Van Strum Financial Service prospered. In 1930, Van Strum hired Harvard classmate Herbert Sands Towne to open a branch office in Springfield, Massachusetts. Four years later, Towne became a partner and the firm was renamed Van Strum & Towne, Inc.

In 1937, the pair helped to found the Investment Counsel Association of America, a professional association for investment advisors. By 1940, Van Strum & Towne, Inc., had nearly three-dozen employees in five locations around the country and offered a variety of customized services to help clients of all income levels attain their investment goals.

Growing With a Country
The end of World War II in 1945 ushered in peace and prosperity for a weary nation. Partners Van Strum and Towne looked for opportunities to expand and diversify their business in the booming post-war economy. In 1952, they set up Channing Corporation, a multifaceted conglomerate focused on two of the country’s fastest growing sectors: cars and home-building.

Mutual funds, however, soon caught—and kept—Channing Corporation’s attention. By the end of the 1950s, the firm shed its interests in auto parts and hardware, and assembled an array of funds in the U.S. and Canada. In 1960, the company entered the insurance business by acquiring several existing companies. By 1969, Channing could offer a full portfolio of financial services, from investment counseling to nearly a dozen mutual funds and a wide range of insurance policies.

During the next fifteen years, Channing underwent several mergers, eventually emerging under the name American Capital Corporation in 1983. In spite of transitions in name and ownership, a longstanding commitment to help Americans reach their financial goals remained the firm’s driving force.

A Future Partner
Unknown to American Capital Corporation, the seeds of a future partnership were being sown in the late 1960s on lively LaSalle Street in Chicago’s financial district. In 1968, 30-year old Robert Van Kampen left a secure job at a local brokerage to set up his own partnership. In 1974 "The Charger" found his niche, taking the bond market by surprise when he pioneered insurance coverage for tax-exempt bond funds. Competitors scoffed, but after New York City’s near-default in 1975, investors flocked to Van Kampen’s insured unit investment trusts. In 1982, the company broke all records in the industry by introducing a $125 million Insured Municipal Income Trust (IMIT), soon followed by an even larger $128.5 IMIT. By 1983, the company now known as Van Kampen Merritt, Inc. had sold nearly $7 billion of trusts and was the nation’s third-largest firm in that arena.

In 1984, Van Kampen Merritt introduced its first mutual fund, the Van Kampen Merritt U.S. Government Fund. Just two years later, the firm’s mutual fund business topped $3.5 billion.

In 1991, Van Kampen made the historic decision to exit capital markets and concentrate on mutual funds and unit investment trusts. The stage was set for a "merger of equals."

A Merger of Equals
In 1994, the paths of Van Kampen Merritt and American Capital merged, creating the nation’s fifth-largest broker-sold mutual fund group. The melding of the two firms brought together more than $50 billion in assets under management or supervision, including more than 75 mutual funds and broad expertise across the range of fixed-income and equity investments.

Van Kampen American Capital (VKAC) soon attracted the attention of Morgan Stanley, a Wall Street firm with roots dating to the early nineteenth century. In June 1996, Morgan Stanley acquired VKAC, a strategic move that immediately gave the firm a substantial presence in domestic mutual fund markets.

Less than a year later, Morgan Stanley merged with retail brokerage and credit card company Dean Witter, Discover & Co. Overnight, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter more than doubled its stake in the mutual fund arena. Dean Witter’s $77 billion fund business, combined with the assets of VKAC, created one of only six companies in the nation to hold more than $100 billion in mutual fund assets.

Van Kampen Investments Today
In 1998, Van Kampen American Capital changed its name to Van Kampen Investments, and completed a $1.6 billion initial public offering (IPO) of a closed-end mutual fund, the second-largest closed-end IPO at the time.

Today, Van Kampen Investments remains one of the nation’s oldest and largest investment management companies, managing or supervising approximately $100 billion in assets, including a broad array of open-end and closed-end mutual funds, unit investment trusts, retirement products and investment platforms.

With nearly four generations of money management experience, so you can appreciate life’s true wealth.

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