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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Wilmington Trust to Buy RIA

News summary by MFWire's editors

Wilmington Trust Corporation has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Bingham Legg Advisers LLC, a Boston-based RIA. The deal will give Wilmington Trust access to wealth management clients in the New England area.

Wilmington Trust Corporation (NYSE:WL - News) announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Bingham Legg Advisers LLC, a Boston-based wealth management firm that specializes in tax-sensitive investment strategies for high-net-worth individuals and families. This transaction adds Boston to Wilmington Trust's network of national Wealth Advisory Services offices and gives clients of Bingham Legg Advisers access to Wilmington Trust's full spectrum of investment and other wealth management services.

"Wilmington Trust has had wealth management clients in the New England area for many years and we have been looking for the right opportunity in Boston for some time," said Ted T. Cecala, Wilmington Trust chairman and CEO. "Bingham Legg's investment management philosophy and team approach to serving clients are very similar to ours. Our two firms fit well together, and I am delighted to be entering one of the nation's top high-net-worth markets with such a capable, highly regarded, and well established team already in place."

Bingham Legg Advisers (BLA) was formed in 1999 in a joint venture between what is now Bingham McCutchen LLP, a leading international law firm, and Legg Mason, Inc., a global asset management firm. Today BLA is a registered investment advisor with clients throughout the United States as well as in Europe and Asia. The firm provides investment management, tax and financial planning, fiduciary services, and family office services. At March 31, 2007, BLA had $1.5 billion in assets under management and another $887 million in assets under supervision.

BLA's professionals work with their clients' legal and tax advisors to develop asset management strategies for marketable securities, closely held stock, real estate, limited partnership interests, and other types of assets. Most of BLA's client relationship managers have law, MBA, or advanced accounting degrees and extensive experience with complex financial arrangements. All of BLA's portfolio managers have earned the Chartered Financial AnalystŪ designation.

When the transaction is complete, BLA will take the Wilmington Trust name and BLA's 30 employees will become Wilmington Trust staff members. Peter E. Simmons, BLA's president and CEO, will become president of Wilmington Trust's Wealth Advisory Services office in Boston. Wilmington Trust's Boston office will occupy BLA's offices on Milk Street in the financial district.

"Our alignment with Wilmington Trust significantly broadens our capabilities and allows us to better serve the highly sophisticated needs of our clients," said Mr. Simmons. "We look forward to joining forces with one of the oldest and most respected wealth advisory companies in the United States." Mr. Simmons was part of the group that formed BLA and he has been with the firm since its inception.

The BLA acquisition gives Delaware-based Wilmington Trust a physical presence in the fifth largest high-net-worth market in the United States. According to the TNS Financial Affluent Market Research Program, only the markets in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. are larger. Wilmington Trust already has Wealth Advisory Services (WAS) offices in New York, Los Angeles, and the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area, as well as in five other states and its home state of Delaware, where the company is also the state's leading commercial and retail bank.

The transaction announced today is the latest in a series of investments that Wilmington Trust has made in recent years to expand its WAS business, which provides investment management, fiduciary services, and family office services to clients in all 50 states and 35 other countries. In 2006, the company significantly expanded its family office services practices on the East Coast; opened new WAS offices in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania; and added fundamentally indexed and multi-manager real asset mutual funds to its investment offerings.

"With roots that date to our founding in 1903 as a wealth management company, Wilmington Trust is a natural fit for high-net-worth individuals and families in Boston and New England," said Rodney P. Wood, executive vice president and head of Wilmington Trust's WAS business. "We look forward to working with Bingham Legg's clients and perpetuating the outstanding service they have come to expect."

Terms of the transaction, which is expected to close in the second quarter of 2007, were not disclosed. BLA's revenue and expenses will be consolidated into Wilmington Trust's financial statements. The transaction is expected to be modestly accretive to Wilmington Trust's earnings in 2007.

Wilmington Trust Corporation (NYSE:WL - News) is a financial services holding company that provides Regional Banking services throughout the Delaware Valley region, Wealth Advisory Services for high-net-worth clients in 36 countries, and Corporate Client Services for institutional clients in 86 countries. Its wholly owned bank subsidiary, Wilmington Trust Company, which was founded in 1903, is one of the largest personal trust providers in the United States and the leading retail and commercial bank in Delaware. Wilmington Trust Corporation and its affiliates have offices in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, the Cayman Islands, the Channel Islands, London, Dublin, and Frankfurt.

Chartered Financial Analyst is a trademark owned by CFA Institute.  

Edited by: Erin Kello

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