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Rating:An Acquirer Finds Its Foundational U.S. Centerpiece Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Wednesday, March 24, 2021

An Acquirer Finds Its Foundational U.S. Centerpiece

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

Even as a European asset management backer prepares to make a key acquisition in the U.S., their team is continuing to work on new partnerships with additional boutique asset managers.

"We believe that Litman Gregory can be the foundational centerpiece for us in the U.S. to build around," Jeff Seeley, deputy CEO and U.S. chief for iM Global Partner, tells MFWire. (Earlier this month, Seeley unveiled iM Global's planned purchase of Litman Gregory, a deal expected to close in Q2 2021.) "We've really found a common culture. We're both very focused on research-based subadvisor selection."

"Litman Gregory has an excellent reputation, an excellent brand, and has common alignment," Seeley adds. "It's a great fit for both sides."

Litman Gregory will bring iM Global into the U.S. wealth management space, and that side of Litman Gregory will "continue to have its independence," Seeley explains.

"The wealth management business will be a separate, stand-alone business unit," with its own RIA, Seeley says.

In asset management, Litman Gregory offers a six-fund family of multi-manager, high-conviction, subadvised mutual funds, whereas iM Global traditionally takes minority, long-term stakes in boutique asset managers and then helps them with distribution. (iM Global also has two active ETFs and one mutual fund of its own.) Like Litman Gregory CEO Steve Savage, Seeley notes that the deal is not about cost-cutting as the two firms have little overlap.

"There's very little redundancies in the U.S. in terms of employees, so there's no layoffs," Seeley says. "All of the Litman Gregory employees will stay on board."

That lack of overlap applies in distribution, too, Seeley notes. He points out that Litman Gregory's team distributes mainly in the RIA and bank trust channel, while iM Global's team mostly focuses on the independent B-D channel. So Seeley sees distribution synergies in the deal, offering both sides a "broader footprint across different channels."

Looking ahead, watch for the iM Global team to do more deals, especially in terms of taking long-term, minority stakes in boutique asset managers.

"We're in extensive discussions with several asset management boutiques right now to potentially become a minority partner to them," Seeley says. "We're looking for asset classes that meet long-term investment solutions."

iM Global Partner currently has minority stakes in six boutiques. (They also bought a UCITs fund business last year.) In terms of future targets, they look globally for "long-term firms that have weathered the test of time and have been successful in various market cycles," Seeley says.

"We don't look for partners in areas where we've already made partnerships." Seeley adds.  

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