Fiera Buys a 4th U.S. Shop. What's Next?
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Friday, March 04, 2016

Fiera Buys a 4th U.S. Shop. What's Next?

A $74-billion, publicly-traded asset manager from north of the border is poised to build out its U.S. mutual fund and subadvisory businesses after buying a Midwestern growth equity specialist.

Benjamin S. Thompson
Fiera Capital Global Asset Management
President and Chief Executive Officer
Ben Thompson, president and CEO of the U.S. division of Fiera Capital Corporation, confirms that the Montreal-based company's U.S. presence is currently mainly institutional. Though Fiera does mutual funds in Canada (partly in partnership with National Bank of Canada), Fiera's U.S. mutual fund business, he says, is "limited at this point." Watch for that to change.

"The regulated mutual fund structure is a very logical development path for Fiera's core strategies," Thompson tells MFWire, adding that mutual funds "are an important area to build" in the U.S. for Fiera.

This week Jean-Guy Desjardins, chairman and CEO of all of Fiera, unveiled a $145-million, part-cash, part-stock deal to buy Dayton, Ohio-based U.S. growth equity specialist Apex Capital Management. That deal, slated to close next month, will be Fiera's fourth U.S. acquisition since 2013. Fiera's pattern in Canada, Thompson says, involves both organic growth and acquisitions.

"We're looking to grow organically," Thompson says. "We really have a solid critical mass of strategies, distribution, and investment team horsepower."

If Fiera does do more U.S. acquisitions, Thompson adds, they'll be looking for shops with strategies that are "thematically similar" to existing Fiera ones, strategies that could help Fiera make a "more complete platform."

"One of the most important pieces is cultural fit," Thompson says. "The investment process is really sacrosanct at Fiera."

Mutual funds aren't the only U.S. Channel Thompson foresees expanding Fiera's presence in.

"Subadvisory is a very attractive space," Thompson says.

Once the Apex deal closes, Fiera's U.S. asset management business will include about 90 people between Boston, Dayton, and New York. In December Thompson and his team moved into Fiera U.S. division's new headquarters in midtown Manhattan, near the old HQ of Samson Capital Advisors (the Thompson-led business that Fiera bought last year).

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