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Vanguard is reportedly considering private equity products

Key Points
  • Index fund behemoth Vanguard Group has held talks with private equity firms, WSJ reported.
  • A move into private equity funds would be a stark shift for the company known for low-cost ETFs and mutual funds.
Tim Buckley, CEO, Vanguard 
David A. Grogan | CNBC

Vanguard Group, the index fund behemoth, is considering private equity offerings and has held meetings with several firms, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

The Malvern, Pa.-money manager that rose to fame by offering broad, low-cost stock-and-bond market funds, hasn't made a final decision on whether to offer access to private equity-related products, which could carry higher fees, the Journal said, citing sources. It said Vanguard has had "exploratory" talks with Boston's HarbourVest Partners, London-based Pantheon and at least one other firm over the past year.

"We continually evaluate a range of products and services, but have no immediate plans to offer a private equity fund," a Vanguard spokeswoman said in a statement.

The firm had about $5.2 trillion in assets as of the end of January.

Such a move would come as asset managers are facing increasing pressure to lower fees on their public-market funds. A report published by J.P. Morgan Chase last month said that fees on exchange-traded funds offered by large firms like Vanguard and Blackrock have dropped by 40% the past eight years.