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Buyout groups fuel investment sector M&A – Financial Times

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Deal-hungry buyout groups are hunting for targets across the investment industry with Blackstone, KKR, General Atlantic, Stone Point and Thomas H Lee all acquiring asset management or wealth businesses in the past 12 months.

The value of deals involving asset and wealth managers jumped to $38.9bn last year, almost triple the previous year, according to Piper Sandler, the Minneapolis-based investment bank.

Reverence Capital Partners, a little known player, this year emerged as a forceful new competitor after it clinched the biggest deal so far involving an asset management and private equity. Reverence and GTCR, a Chicago-based private equity manager, in February agreed to buy the $603bn asset management arm of Wells Fargo for $2.1bn.

“The Wells Fargo acquisition brings private equity into new territory in terms of the scale of their ambitions in asset management,” says Aaron Dorr, a principal at Piper Sandler.

New York-based Reverence, which was founded in 2013 by Goldman Sachs alumni Milton Berlinski, Peter Aberg and Alex Chulack is keen to win more deals.

“In spite of the headwinds from fee pressure and the shift from active to passive, asset management is a sector with attractive long-term prospects, particularly if you are a scale player,” says Berlinski.

But the modest $2.1bn sale price, a valuation that represented just 0.3 per cent of WFAM’s assets, has prompted talk among industry observers that Reverence and GTCR bought a lemon unwanted by other suitors.

Berlinski rejects this description. “There are very few moments when a business of this size become available. We think we paid a fair price.

He asserts that WFAM has a “quality management team, a strong culture and very good investment performance”.

Below the radar, Reverence has participated in a range of deals involving Russell Investments, Victory Capital, Vida Capital, Oak Hill Advisors as well as the acquisitions of Advisor Group and Ladenburg Thalmann, two wealth management platforms.

Including WFAM, the stable of managers owned outright or partly controlled by Reverence now oversee close to $2tn of assets.

Private equity managers are also encouraging investment firms which they have acquired to pursue bolt on deals, creating a second layer of M&A activity.

Texas-based Victory Capital has developed into a $147bn multi-boutique with 10 franchises after completing multiple acquisitions with the backing of Reverence, including deals with Munder Capital Management, RS Investments, USAA and THB Asset Management.

Reverence retained a 14.4 per cent stake after Victory floated on the Nasdaq exchange in 2018. Its share price has since more than doubled.

“We encourage portfolio companies to pursue M&A when it is appropriate. Smaller managers find it difficult and costly to access distribution. Bringing the franchises together on a shared platform means that Victory now delivers one of the best profit margins in the asset management industry,” says Berlinski. Victory’s net income more than doubled to $213m last year even though it registered net outflows of $19.4bn in 2020.

M&A activity across the highly fragmented US wealth management has been running at a frenetic pace for the last three years, driven by private equity groups.

“Wealth management has very attractive characteristics for private equity buyers. Client numbers are increasing for wealth managers and client loyalty tends to be very strong with a 90 per cent annual retention rate,” says Dorr.

Reverence bought Advisor Group in 2019, then a platform of four wealth management businesses with combined assets of $272bn. Three months later, Advisor bought Ladenburg Thalmann in a deal worth $1.3bn, including debt.

Founded in 1876 as an investment bank, Ladenburg Thalmann’s activities have expanded to include wealth management, insurance and brokerage services.

Together Advisor and Ladenburg Thalmann employ 11,500 financial advisers and oversee more than $450bn in client assets.

“We have created one of the most robust wealth management platforms in the country to support advisers growth by combining these two firms,” says Berlinski, a veteran of more than 250 deals over a 26-year career at Goldman.

The deal has also created a new competitor to Wall Street’s so-called wirehouses, the brokerage and wealth management platforms run by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, UBS and Wells Fargo. 

Dorr adds that “wealth managers can be combined without interruptions to the core business of serving clients. That is more difficult in asset management deals”.

Since it was launched, Reverence and its co-investors have committed a total of $5.4bn, raising two private equity funds and a structured credit fund. It plans to launch a third private equity fund this year which will again target financial services companies.

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Pandemic fears send stocks, oil, yields lower

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By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK (Reuters) -A gauge of stock prices across the world fell on Tuesday and oil prices also slipped as concern lingered over rising global COVID-19 cases and their effect on the global economic rebound.

The dollar index ticked up after touching its lowest level since March 3 and Treasury yields fell, though they still held above last week’s more than one-month lows.

India reported 1,761 deaths from COVID-19 overnight, its highest daily toll, while Canada and the United States extended a land-border closure for non-essential travelers.

On Wall Street, travel stocks weighed on sentiment, with airline and cruise operators falling sharply.

Some of the recent optimism about the leisure industry has waned as the reopening might take a bit longer than initially thought, said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

“We’re not out of the woods yet when it comes to the COVID virus and getting to where global economies are reopening,” he said. “Some of that enthusiasm has diminished.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 256.33 points, or 0.75%, to 33,821.3, the S&P 500 lost 28.32 points, or 0.68%, at 4,134.94 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 128.50 points, or 0.92%, to 13,786.27.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 1.90% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.85%.

Emerging market stocks lost 0.07%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.08% lower, while Japan’s Nikkei lost 1.97%.

After touching its lowest level in nearly seven weeks overnight, the dollar index rose slightly.

The currencies and interest rate markets could be relatively calm for another few weeks as the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank each take their time adjusting their rate policies, said Mazen Issa, senior currency strategist at TD Securities.

“There really isn’t a strong catalyst in either direction this month to really break us out of ranges,” Issa said.

The dollar index rose 0.166%, with the euro unchanged at $1.2033.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.08% versus the greenback at 108.09 per dollar, while sterling was last trading at $1.3939, down 0.31% on the day.

Tufts University economist Brian Bethune said the lower yields stood in contrast with their level close to 1.8% on March 30, reflecting worries that public health gains against the virus have stalled in Brazil, Canada and other countries.

“There’s a repricing of what the international environment is going to look like,” even though the U.S. economic recovery looks strong, Bethune said.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes last rose 11/32 in price to yield 1.5624%, from 1.599% late on Monday.

Concern over rising COVID-19 cases in India continued to weigh on the oil market.

“Given India’s position as a major crude oil importer … new restrictions would be very bad for the energy complex,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho.

U.S. crude recently fell 1.21% to $62.44 per barrel and Brent was at $66.50, down 0.82% on the day.

Spot gold added 0.5% to $1,778.80 an ounce. Silver gained 0.07% to $25.83.

Bitcoin last rose 2.4% to $57,030.36.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; additional reporting by Laura Sanicola and David Henry in New York, Ross Kerber in Boston and Shivani Kumaresan and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Dan Grebler and Richard Chang)

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Federal budget spending bookended by extended-care, child-care investments – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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The Trudeau Liberal government delivered a federal budget Monday aimed at finishing the fight against COVID-19 and investing in a broken economy while providing much-anticipated good news for Nova Scotians young and old.

Introducing the first federal budget in more than two years, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the pandemic has preyed on Canadian seniors “mercilessly,” ending thousands of lives and forcing all seniors into fearful isolation.

“We have failed so many of those living in long-term care facilities,” Freeland said. “To them, and to their families, let me say this: I am so sorry. We owe you so much better than this.”

The “so much better” is expected to come from a budget announcement of a $3-billion investment over five years, starting in 2022-23, to ensure that provinces and territories provide a standard of care in their long-term care facilities.

Freeland said the pandemic has shed a light on systemic issues affecting long-term care facilities across the country, a light that was focused on Nova Scotia last week when Premier Iain Rankin was bombarded with opposition questions about pandemic failures at the Northwood long-term care facility in Halifax that resulted in 53 virus deaths.

Michelle Lowe, the executive director of Nursing Homes of Nova Scotia Association, an umbrella group that represents 85 per cent of the province’s 97 nursing homes, said her association has had recent discussion about the push for national standards.

Lowe said the Nova Scotia system is not perfect but “we have a very good system when it comes to standards and outcomes that are required.”

Lowe said the concern is that when the federal government focuses on developing national standards, “it then starts to take the focus off the really critical things that require investment.”

“The immediate issue is (staff) recruitment,” Lowe said. “Standards are important but I would say the standards that many of our facilities here in Nova Scotia abide by are exceptional.”

The Northwood extended care home in Halifax. The federal budget included funding that would create national standards in extended-care homes across Canada.- Tim Krochak

Lowe said Nova Scotia could set standards that would meet and likely exceed national benchmarks and said a variety of government bodies, like Accreditation Canada, audit long-term-care facilities to make sure practices meet national and international standards. 

Lowe said federal government funds would be better invested in paying the sometimes unattainable fees for those governing bodies to audit facilities. 

“The number one issue that’s facing long-term care in this country is recruitment,” Lowe said. “For so long, the emphasis has been on recruiting acute-care staff, recruiting doctors, recruiting nurses, to come into the primary care setting and what’s fallen off the radar and what’s fallen off efforts by government is this whole area of recruiting for continuing care, not only in Nova Scotia, but across the country.”

Lowe said funding for new or renovated facilities is important “but if we don’t have the staff to support that, none of it will matter.”

“If we don’t have some significant investment in recruitment, particularly from what we are seeing here in Nova Scotia … I’m crossing my fingers and hoping this doesn’t happen, you are going to see facilities closing beds for summer vacations because they just don’t have enough staff to provide the care.”

Lowe said providing private rooms for every senior in long-term care is not realistic, based on projections that suggest 199,000 new beds would be needed over the next 15 years to support the baby boomers as they go through the system. 

The federal budget also provides $90 million over three years to look at ways to support an age well at home initiative to support seniors to stay at home, in their home communities as long as possible.. The funding would provide practical support to help low-income and otherwise vulnerable seniors, including matching seniors with volunteers who can help with meal preparations, home maintenance, daily errands, yard work, and transportation. 

“That’s fantastic,” Lowe said of caring for more seniors at home.

The federal government has also promised to increase old age security for Canadians 75 and older.

It means providing support where COVID has struck hardest – to women, to young people, to low-wage workers, and to small and medium-sized businesses, especially in hospitality and tourism. 

At the other end of the spectrum from seniors measures is a federal commitment to invest $30 billion over the next five years in a Canada-wide child-care and early learning program. By the end of next year, the federal government aims to reduce average fees for regulated early learning and child care by 50 per cent that would bring fees for 4egulated child care down to $10 per day on average within the next five years. 

Combined with previous investments announced since 2015, a minimum of $9.2 billion per year will be invested annually in child care, including Indigenous early learning and child care, starting in 2025-26.

“Long overdue,” said Alec Stratford, chairman of the steering committee for the Nova Scotia branch of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 

“It’s been 50 years since the Commission on the Status of Women recommended a national child-care program,” Stratford said. “It is finally nice to see words come to fruition with a meaningful investment.”

Stratford said the program will work the same as health care, with the federal government providing funding with federal standards and the provinces figuring out the best way to deliver it.

Stratford said child care is particularly important at this current moment as “we look at the statistics on women in the labour force and the impact that the pandemic has had.”

Stratford said child care is one of the most effective economic policies that we can put into play with every dollar spent returning two dollars to the economy, a policy that creates equity among genders in the workplace.

“As women are able to feel safe in having their kids cared for, they re-enter the labour market, go back to school and find the education and tools that we all need.”

The federal budget comes with a 354.2-billion deficit for the fiscal year just completed and a projected $154.7-billion deficit for the 2021-22 fiscal cycle.

The federal budget plan is to create one million new jobs by year’s end, extended funding through the fall to bridge Canadians and Canadian businesses through the pandemic crisis toward recovery and support 500,000 new training and work opportunities, almost half of which will be opportunities for youth.

“These are the programs that are needed,” Stratford said. “That, with pharmacare, increased health-care spending, all of those programs and services work to lower the cost of living for Canadians, so that they can live a more quality life, which is a markedly different approach that we’ve seen in past governments where austerity is the policy decision-maker.”

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Investment

British Columbia tackles innovation investment gap

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Lt.- Gov. Janet Austin delivers the Throne Speech at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., April 12, 2021.

CHAD HIPOLITO/The Canadian Press

The B.C. government will create its own investment fund to help promising B.C. companies scale up and keep jobs here at home, as part of its post-pandemic recovery plan.

The InBC strategic investment fund, announced in Monday’s Throne Speech, will be administered by a new Crown corporation. The initiative is designed to respond to concerns that the province’s world-leading innovations in sectors such as life sciences are consistently flowing to other jurisdictions with better investment climates.

The Throne Speech, read by Lieutenant-Governor Janet Austin, offers a self-congratulatory account of the government’s response to the health and economic challenges brought by COVID-19 over the past year, and acknowledges that the province is still in the grips of the pandemic. But it also focuses on plans to rebuild the economy.

“We open this sitting of the legislature at a turning point in our fight to end the pandemic,” she read. “The threat of new variants means we cannot relax, even as your government accelerates the largest mass-immunization program in B.C.’s history.”

Ms. Austin cited the province’s contributions to the global effort to fight COVID-19, noting that its life-sciences companies have helped develop a vaccine and a treatment for the virus, as well as the development of an ICU ventilator for use in Canadian hospitals.

“Their work will not only help bring us out of the pandemic, it will position our province for success in the years ahead,” she said.

The speech predicts the province will find continued growth in trade. “Global markets are changing in ways that offer significant opportunities for B.C.’s goods and services. Prices are expected to continue to reflect environmental, social and governance aspects of production,” it states. “British Columbia firms will be able to take advantage of a premium paid for inclusive and sustainable products.”

But leaders in health sciences and the high-tech sectors have noted that B.C., while it excels in research and development, fails to foster a business environment where those innovations can stay and grow.

Quebec and Ontario have helped secure life sciences investments by partnering with Ottawa to offer incentives. Most recently, the global pharmaceutical giant Sanofi unveiled its plans to build an influenza vaccine manufacturing facility in Toronto, after the federal government and the province of Ontario committed to invest close to half a billion dollars in the project.

The B.C. government provided no detail on the new investment fund on Monday, and it is unclear how the new agency will assist. “This new strategic fund will help promising B.C. companies scale up, anchor talent – keeping jobs and investment at home in British Columbia,” it reads.

It also promises additional funding to address the challenges that COVID-19 has exposed for the homeless, for health care and for seniors in long-term care. “In the year ahead, your government will continue to improve care for seniors by hiring thousands of new workers for long-term care and fixing the cracks COVID-19 has exposed.”

The Throne Speech also promises initiatives to assist British Columbians who struggle with the cost of living. The budget, which will be introduced on April 20, will include funds to help get thousands of rental homes built throughout the province, and will expand access to the province’s $10-a-day daycare spaces.

The government is also promising changes to its vehicle insurance rates through the Insurance Corporation of B.C. ICBC will deliver a 20-per-cent cut to car insurance rates, in addition to the COVID-19 rebate that was issued earlier this year.

Source:- The Globe and Mail

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