Wells Fargo & Co. has taken a 35 percent stake in The Rock Creek Group, a fund-of-hedge-funds company in Washington, D.C., as the nation's No. 4 bank works to double its asset-management unit.

Rock Creek, which has about $7 billion in assets under management and 50 employees, designs and implements customized funds of hedge funds and emerging market portfolios for institutional clients using proprietary analytics.

The company was founded in 2002 by former World Bank treasurer and chief financial officer Afsaneh Beschloss. Beschloss was instrumental in developing the World Bank's portfolio of alternative investments and private equity, according to Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo, based in San Francisco, didn't disclose financial terms of the deal, which has closed. It made the investment through its Wells Fargo Asset Management arm in Charlotte, N.C.

Wells Fargo Asset Management caters to a range of institutional and individual "retail" customers, but the partnership with Rock Creek is focused on Wells Fargo's institutional client base, such as companies, public pension plans, endowments and foundations.

The bank has said it plans to double its asset-management unit within seven years, partly by investing in alternative asset funds.

Michael Niedermeyer, CEO of Wells Fargo Asset Management, said in a news release that Rock Creek has an outstanding reputation in the hedge fund industry.

"Our clients have expressed their desire for increased alternative investment solutions, and this partnership allows us to meet those needs," Niedermeyer said.

Wells Fargo said it may acquire additional ownership interest in Rock Creek in coming years. Rock Creek's team will remain independent with no change in its operation, and Beschloss will continue to run it, the bank said.

Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683