William Blair Will Buy a 49-Year-Old Value Shop
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Friday, February 12, 2021

William Blair Will Buy a 49-Year-Old Value Shop

A Midwestern bank's asset management arm is poised to buy an institutional value equity shop from a publicly traded multiboutique.

Stephanie Grieser Braming
William Blair
Partner, Global Head of Investment Management
On Wednesday, Stephanie Braming, partner and global head of William Blair Investment Management [profile], confirmed that the Chicago-based firm has agreed to acquire Baltimore-based Investment Counselors of Maryland, LLC (ICM [profile]) from Boston-based BrightSphere Investment Group Inc. Pricing and terms of the deal, which is expected to close in Q2, have not been publicly disclosed.

49-year-old ICM has $3.2 billion in AUM, including $1.699 billion (as of January 31) in its sole mutual fund: the 32-year-old ICM Small Company Portfolio. As of December 31, William Blair had $69.7 billion in AUM, and its asset management arm accounted for 321 of its 1,576 employees. As of ICM's most recent form ADV, filed last July, the Brightsphere subsidiary had 14 staff, not counting clerical workers. (According to the William Blair folks, ICM's investment team includes eight people, led by managing principal Bill Heaphy.)

"We are thrilled to welcome Bill and the ICM investment team to William Blair as our U.S. value franchise," William Blair's Braming states. "This team will broaden and deepen William Blair's value expertise and will add another strong pillar to our well-known U.S., international, and emerging markets small-cap franchise."

It sounds like the ICM investing team may be combining with, or taking over for, an existing William Blair team.

"William Blair and ICM will work together on a smooth transition for clients, leveraging the combined expertise of the two firms," the William Blair team writes. "As part of this transition, it is expected that members of the current William Blair Small Cap Value team will remain with the firm for a period to assist with the transition to ICM."

ICM's Heaphy, for his part, lauds William Blair as "a perfect strategic fit" for the ICM team and their clients.

"Its investment-led, client-focused private partnership aligns strongly with ICM's culture," Heaphy states. "In addition, its broad distribution resources and infrastructure backbone will support our current investment process and client engagement, while facilitating future growth."

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