May 2 (Reuters) - Shares of Ares Management LP, the first U.S. private equity firm to go public in about two years, fell as much as 5.3 percent in their market debut, even after the size of the offering was cut and it priced well below the expected range.
Ares' shares fell to a low of $18 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange after being priced at $19, well below the expected range of $21-23, in a turbulent IPO market.
At the low, the company was valued at $3.8 billion and co-founder Tony Ressler's stake at about $1.16 billion.
The company, the only seller of shares in the IPO, raised about $216 million after the offering size was slashed by 37 percent to 11.4 million shares.
Ressler, the company's CEO and second-largest shareholder, is a veteran of junk bond pioneer Drexel Burnham Lambert who also co-founded Apollo Global Management LLC.
He retains a 23 percent stake in Ares.
Ares' biggest shareholder is AREC Holdings Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, which owns almost half of the company. AREC had originally planned to sell some of its shares in the offering.
J.P. Morgan and BofA Merrill Lynch were lead underwriters.
(Reporting By Tanya Agrawal in Bangalore; Additional reporting by Anil D'Silva and Neha Dimri; Editing by Ted Kerr)