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Rating:As Columbia's Two-Part Sale Nears, Where's Invesco? Not Rated 4.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Monday, July 27, 2009

As Columbia's Two-Part Sale Nears, Where's Invesco?

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

And then there were two bidders for Columbia Management's non-money fund business. Pensions & Investments reports that only Ameriprise (RiverSource's parent) and Madison Dearborn Partners (Nuveen's private equity backer) are left in the running, with Ameriprise $1 billion-plus offer scaring away Invesco and OppenheimerFunds. Meanwhile, BlackRock (but not Federated) is again named as a possible buyer for the money market fund business. And it appears that a management-led buyout is no longer a possibility.

A spokesman for Invesco and a spokeswoman for OppFunds both declined to comment for this story, and a spokeswoman for Nuveen was not immediately able to comment. Spokespeople with Ameriprise, BlackRock and Madison Dearborn could not immediately be reached for comment.

The MFWire reported last month that the bidding for Columbia had narrowed to three firms: Ameriprise, Invesco and Nuveen.

One industry insider described both Ameriprise and Madison Dearborn as "a sellers dream."

"One has a history of paying far too much, and the other believes fifteen years of investor preference for open architecture has no relevance to their corporate strategy," the insider said.

The bid reported by P&I meshes with pricing given to The MFWire by a source close to the situation, who claimed that the pricing ranges from "sub-$1 billion to $1.5 billion," a price well below the multi-billions of dollars Bank of America had hoped for.

"The price just isn't there," the industry insider told The MFWire.

That same source noted that Ameriprise has several advantages in the auction. Personal advisors group president Don Froude once led intermediary distribution for Columbia. And Ameriprise offers BofA the real opportunity for a kind of strategic partnership, thanks to Ameriprise's insurance business.

"They apparently want to do a strategic deal, maintaining an ongoing relationship with Columbia," the source explained, noting that BofA does not currently offer insurance. "Columbia's a great distribution company."

Ameriprise also unveiled plans last month for $900 million public offering, the proceeds of which could presumably be used for such an acquisition.

As for Columbia's management, one anonymous source told the MFWire that a management-led LBO, which had apparently been discussed by at least some Columbia execs, has been pushed off the table by BofA. Such a deal would probably be unable to offer the kind of strategic partnership that Ameriprise can bring to the table. 

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