AB Buys a Financial Services Watcher
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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

AB Buys a Financial Services Watcher

A global financial services watcher is selling to an asset manager with $530 billion in AUM.

Seth P. Bernstein
President, CEO
New York City-based AllianceBernstein (AB [profile]) has agreed to buy London-based Autonomous Research, AB president and CEO Seth Bernstein confirms this morning. AB is publicly traded but majority-owned by a multinational insurer, Paris-based Axa, while Autonomous is a partnership. Autonomous does research globally on financial companies, including asset managers.

Erickson Packard Davis
Autonomous Research LLP
Pricing, terms, and the timing of the deal have not yet been disclosed, though AB expects the deal to close roughly "within the next several months," according to a company statement.

"With a modest up-front investment, it is structured primarily as a long-term earn-out to align the ultimate price paid with the long-term benefits realized," the statement reads.

Meanwhile, both AB and Autonomous will keep their own brands after the deal, and their own business models. Erick Davis, CEO of Autonomous, describes the deal as giving his team the ability "to offer a complementary range of research and trading capabilities to a wider global audience."

Bernstein puts the deal in the context of the increasing importance of "fundamental research excellence."

"Research is the foundation of our business, and investing judiciously in these capabilities will enhance AB's reputation and value proposition to all our clients," Bernstein states.

Craig Siegenthaler, an AB-watching analyst at Credit Suisse, predicts (in a brief note to clients) that the deal "will enhance AB's global scale and provide an opportunity to upgrade overlapping services."

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