Manager’s Death Shakes Texas Investors

The death of a prominent private wealth manager at an Invesco Ltd. unit has roiled the Texas investment community and sent ripples through wealthy society throughout the state.

It comes soon after Invesco announced plans to sell the unit, Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management, to Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce for $210 million.

The head of Atlantic Trust’s Austin, Texas, office, S. Mark Powell, was found dead on May 16.

Since Mr. Powell’s body was found nearly two weeks ago, investors have come forward to say they lent him in total millions of dollars, according to people familiar with the matter. At least some of that money appears to have gone missing, the people said.

An Invesco spokesman said in a statement that following Mr. Powell’s death, the fund-management company has become “aware of unusual transactions Mr. Powell seems to have conducted personally outside of his work for Atlantic Trust.”

Invesco said it has advised authorities of the matter.

“We have no reason to believe that client accounts were accessed,” the Invesco statement added.

A spokeswoman for the Securities and Exchange Commission declined to comment Monday.

The Travis County medical examiner’s office didn’t respond to requests for comment on the cause of Mr. Powell’s death.

The 53-year-old Mr. Powell was a father of three was a well-known philanthropist and passionate golfer. Texas Gov. Rick Perry was among the many prominent Texans to attend his funeral.

Several wealthy investors in the state told The Wall Street Journal over the weekend that they knew of dozens of others like them who invested large sums of money with Mr. Powell, who the investors say often sought loans for a variety of private ventures with promises of large guaranteed returns.

One investor said Mr. Powell guaranteed a minimum annual return of 9%. It isn’t clear how much money is involved, but two people involved in the discussions surrounding the matter said “multiple millions” of dollars were at stake involving dozens of investors in Austin, Houston, Dallas and other Texas cities.

Until Mr. Powell’s death, few seemed to be aware of the scope of his private financial arrangements with a wide array of prominent Texans. Investors who spoke to The Wall Street Journal said they are now in discussions with attorneys on potential legal actions.

The all-cash sale of Atlantic Trust to Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, announced last month, is due to be completed in the second half of this year.

Atlantic Trust, which manages about $22 billion assets for clients in 12 U.S. cities, is a small part of the Invesco empire. At the end of March, Invesco had some $729 billion of assets under management, according to its latest financial results.

The Atlanta company targets “affluent individuals,” foundations and endowments, according to its websites. Each new client must have at least $5 million of assets to manage.

A spokesman for Invesco declined to comment on whether the mystery over Mr. Powell’s dealings might affect the planned Atlantic Trust sale.

A spokesman for CIBC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Powell lived in an ivy-covered, $3 million home in an area of West Austin, where two of his children used to attend the top-rated Westlake High School. His 20-year-old daughter, Madison, was one of 13 Texas women to attend the International Debutante Ball in New York in March, where she made her “society debut.”

He joined Atlantic Trust in 2002, according to the company’s website, which said he was “instrumental in establishing the firm’s presence in Austin and throughout Texas.” His previous roles in a career spanning more than quarter of a century included being a managing director with Morgan Keegan Co.

Mr. Powell served on the boards of a number of charities, including the Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, the First Tee of Greater Austin and the Young Life Foundation in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Mr. Powell belonged to multiple golf clubs, including the exclusive Austin Golf Club, about 30 miles west of Austin, where he appeared the day before his death and was “part of the elite few who helped build the club in the early 2000s,” an employee of the club said. His father, Boone Powell Jr., is a leader in the health-care industry and served as president of the $5.3 billion Baylor Health Care System.

Write to Neil King Jr. at jean.eaglesham@wsj.com and Shelly Banjo at shelly.banjo@wsj.com

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Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 EN

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