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Rating:This Is Why a 29-Year-Old Midwestern Shop Did a $145MM Deal Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Wednesday, March 09, 2016

This Is Why a 29-Year-Old Midwestern Shop Did a $145MM Deal

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

"We don't look at it as selling the business," Nitin Kumbhani, founder of Apex Capital Management, tells MFWire.

Nitin Kumbhani
Apex Capital Management
Chief Executive Officer, Chief Investment Officer
Next month publicly-traded Canadian asset manager Fiera Capital Corporation will pay $145 million ($88 million in cash and $57 million in stock) for Kumbhani's Dayton, Ohio-based U.S. growth equity asset manager. For Ben Thompson, CEO of Fiera's U.S. division, the deal is a key piece of his efforts to build out the asset manager's presence south of the border.

As for Kumbhani, he sees the deal less as a sale and more as a "broader partnership" for him and his team. He will become vice chairman and chief of growth equity strategies for Fiera's U.S. division.

"We'll become shareholders in Fiera," says Kumbhani, who serves as CEO, chief investment officer, and principal at Apex. "They will bring global distribution. We provide the equity growth opportunities for Fiera in the USA."

"We think it's a win-win situation," Kumbhani adds.

Kumbhani started Apex in 1987. His team of 22 now has about $7.1 billion in AUM, primarily in growth equity strategies "across all the market cap spectrum." They run their own mutual fund and subadvise another for another Ohio shop, Cincinnati-based Touchstone.

MFWire could not reach Touchstone president Steve Graziano for comment on the Apex-Fiera deal.

"We had never looked to sell ourselves," Kumbhani says.

Yet in recent years, Kumbhani saw a choice between on the one hand, the challenge of continued organic growth, and on the other hand doing a deal, either acquiring or partnering up. Apex had been "getting a lot of inquiries in the last couple of years," Kumbhani says.

"We wanted an entrepreneurial partner. I am hell-bent on growing this firm," Kumbhani says. "As far as we are concerned we are just beginning."

"We are totally committed and plan to stay here for a long, long time," Kumbhani adds. "I am not looking to change any more."

Looking ahead, Kumbhani hints that Apex's relationship with Touchstone is going to be expanding. And he plans to expand Fiera's style box capabilities in the U.S.; Apex specializes in growth equity, Fiera has "pretty good core equity themselves, excellent internationl and global equity," he says.

"We want to broaden our equity exposure in the U.S.," Kumbhani says. "We'll also be looking for ideas on the value side at some point ... We're already developing a couple of new product ideas."

And the Apex brand will continue, at least "certainly for a period of time," Thompson tells MFWire.

"One of the goals with Fiera is to have an integrated brand," Thompson says. "We value the brand and the reputation that Apex has built around the country. The long-term goal is a unified Fiera brand."

In terms of investment banks, GMP worked with Fiera on the deal, while Park Sutton worked with Apex. 

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