MUCH speculation has surrounded GT Management and its expected sale, but the rumours have been little more than conjecture. GT Management appears to still be in the Bank in Liechenstein (BIL) Group's hands. Managing director of GT Management Asia, Mr Philip Gray said: ''If there had been any material change, a regulatory body would have been notified. Working on the assumption that no one has been notified, you could make the assumption a change of ownership has not taken place.'' Mutterings of a potential sale have been going on for more than a year and Liberty Mutual Insurance Co of Boston was thought to be the most likely buyer. Last month, the rumours became more persistent when four representatives from Liberty were reported to be in Hongkong to conduct due diligence investigations. The representatives were reported to have already visited the London and Dublin operations of GT and said to have signed letters of intent and completed due diligence investigations. At the time of the visit, industry insiders were saying they expected an official announcement within the next month. But no news has emerged so far. The early history of the GT Management Group is easy enough to chart. Set up in 1969 by Mr Richard Thornton and Mr Tom Griffin, the company began as a British public limited company. By March of 1989, the structure grew more complicated as GT Management was taken over by the BIL Group for approximately $1 billion and delisted. The BIL Group is controlled by the Prince of Liechenstein through the Royal Foundation of Liechenstein, the investment arm of the royal family. The prince has been reported to have wanted to sell GT Management for sometime. Observers only speculate on his reasons. Ironically, the most coveted branch of GT may be the one which has prompted the prince to sell. One source suggests that the prince is frustrated by the inaccessibility of GT's assets in San Francisco's GT Global Financial Services, particularly as a large part of the management firm's assets are derived from this business. Five years ago, the San Francisco GT Global Financial Services had seven funds with US$100 million in assets. Today it has $4.2 billion in 16 funds. In the chairman's review last year of the 1991 year performance, Mr David Fitzwilliam-Lay said: ''The main credit for the increase in assets in such a difficult year belongs to the team in GT's San Francisco office . . . where strong sales growth was themajor factor in lifting the asset total 35 per cent to US$4.9 billion.'' But because profits transferred from the US to Liechenstein are subject to a high tax rate, ''60 per cent or something'' according to one source, these assets are largely tied into the US operation. Any ambitious plans the prince has for US proceeds are blocked by this restriction. Hence, perhaps his inclination to sell. The relationship between BIL and GT is also somewhat peculiar. ''There's a charter in GT Management which says that no matter who owns it they can't intervene at an operational level,'' said the spokesperson from GT. Some have suggested that GT's influence on BIL has been so strong, in fact, that the takeover has essentially been reversed: GT influencing BIL rather than the reverse. This may not only be frustrating for BIL, but also a disincentive for prospective buyers. There's also GT's structure with which to contend. The management firm in its present form now manages some HK$101.4 billion worldwide. Its operations are widely spread with three major offices in London, San Francisco and Hongkong and a number of smaller offices dotted around the world. ''We're very interlinked,'' said a spokesperson for the group, refuting a rumour of a three-way split up in the event the group was sold. But assuming a buyer is interested, this still does not explain the delay. Rumours were floating about that a management buy-out at GT Management (Asia) had been staged and failed. Thus, the delay. A GT employee's response to this comment was one of disbelief. So why has there been no sale? ''Our parent is asking too much,'' said a GT employee who preferred to remain anonymous. Rumour is the prince wants to sell the firm for two per cent of funds under management. But that's just a rumour like the rest But in a buyout saga that's setting records for longevity, and brevity of official statements, that speculation like much of the rest remains unconfirmed.