(Bloomberg) — Principal Financial Group Inc., the seller of life insurance and retirement products, agreed to increase its stake in Columbus Circle Investors to 95 percent from 70 percent as it expands a bet on asset management.

The insurer’s 2005 investment in the equity-management firm “has greatly exceeded our mid-teens return threshold expectations,” Jim McCaughan, chief executive officer of the Principal Global Investors unit, said today in a statement. “We’re pleased to be able to increase our ownership stake.”

McCaughan is building groups of specialist money managers at Des Moines, Iowa-based Principal, under a so-called multi-boutique model. The company agreed to buy a stake in Liongate Capital Management LLP last year to add hedge funds. In 2011, Principal bought Finisterre Capital LLP and Origin Asset Management LLP to expand in emerging markets.

Assets under management at Stamford, Connecticut-based Columbus Circle have climbed to $17.5 billion as of June 30 from $3.9 billion when Principal made its initial investment, according to the statement, which didn’t disclose terms. Columbus Circle provides growth-oriented domestic portfolios in industries such as health care and technology for retirement plans and institutional investors.

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