* Man Group to spend up to $70 mln for Silvermine Capital
* Fourth U.S. acquisition this year
* Lifts total assets close to 2008 peak, shares rise 2.4 pct (Adds background, analyst, share price performance)
By Carmel Crimmins and Nishant Kumar
Dec 17 (Reuters) - Man Group plans to buy U.S. fund manager Silvermine Capital for up to $70 million, picking up $3.8 billion of assets under management to further strengthen its presence in the United States.
The world's biggest listed hedge fund company's fourth U.S. deal this year comes days after it acquired a Merrill Lynch fund-of-hedge funds portfolio worth $1.2 billion, continuing the group's diversification away from traditional computer-driven funds and lifting its total assets close to their 2008 peak.
The deal for leveraged loan manager Silvermine is also designed to make Man a significant player in the U.S. market for collateralised loan obligations, a type of bond that bundles together cash flows from loans made to highly indebted companies.
"It's all about adding scale and diversification," said Peter Lenardos, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets.
"They are paying such cheap prices for these that they can't do too much damage," he added, referring to the flurry of U.S. acquisitions.
Man said on Wednesday that it will pay an initial $23.5 million, equivalent to 0.6 percent of Silvermine's assets, with two subsequent payments of up to $16.5 million after a year and up to $30 million after five years, depending on performance.
News of the deal, which is expected to close in the first quarter of next year, lifted Man Group shares 2.4 percent to 148 pence by 1123 GMT, while the benchmark FTSE 100 Index was down 0.7 percent.
The share price is up 74 percent this year, against a 7 percent fall for the FTSE 100, but the stock is still trading at a fraction of its 2008 peak of more than 625 pence.
Man has been restructuring to reduce its dependence on the AHL-branded computer-driven funds that took a heavy battering in the aftermath of the financial crisis and the two latest deals will add $5 billion to the group's $72.3 billion in assets at the end of September, taking it close to the record $79.5 billion hit in June 2008.
Its acquisitions of money managers Numeric and Pine Grove earlier in the year added $16.2 billion of assets, according to Man Group's update at the end of September, with computer-driven funds accounting for 39 percent of group assets. (Editing by David Holmes and David Goodman)