A Canadian Multinational Keeps Hunting For U.S. Asset Managers
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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

A Canadian Multinational Keeps Hunting For U.S. Asset Managers

A publicly traded Canadian multinational that already owns one asset manager in the U.S. may buy another.

"While investment performance continues to be strong at Putnam [profile], scale remains an issue and we continue to explore M&A opportunities," Paul Mahon, president and CEO of Great-West Lifeco, said on Great-West's Q1 2018 earnings call last week, the Boston Business Journal reports. Toronto-based Great-West bought Boston-based Putnam in 2007.

The way Mahon portrays it, Great-West is in no rush and can afford to be patient and choosy as it hunts for other U.S. asset managers to buy.

"There's nothing that's traded in the U.S. ... that we would have wanted or that we were seeking out," Mahon reportedly said. "I wouldn't characterize it as a sense of urgency that we've got to get something done this quarter or next quarter ... We've got to find the right-fit acquisition that fits our strategic hypothesis as to where we see growth."

Putnam is led by Bob Reynolds, who also oversees all of Great-West's U.S. businesses. That includes a giant retirement plan recordkeeper, Empower, and Mahon confirmed that Great-West is M&A hungry on that front, too. Indeed, back in February, Empower chief Ed Murphy talked with our sister publication, 401kWire, about Empower's M&A interests.

Putnam suffered a net loss of C$16 million, up from a C$5 million net loss in Q4 2017 but level with a C$16 million loss in Q1 2017. Putnam's Q1 sales slipped 1 percent year-over-year to $10.504 billion, while its "fee and other income" rose 5 percent to $230 million and its operating expenses rose 3 percent to $185 million. Its AUM rose 6 percent year-over-year, but slipped 1.2 percent from Q4 2017, to $169.5 billion at the end of March. Great-West Lifeco overall reported a 24-percent year-over-year Q1 earnings jump.

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