The ripple effects of the pandemic depressed deal activity in the asset management space in 1H20, with a year-over-year decline of 15.7 percent in volume and 36 percent in value attributed to uncertain capital markets and increased volatility. The US (#137), China (#69), the UK (#43), and Australia (#24) emerged as the most targeted nations during the period. Trends such as market consolidation favoring smaller deals, consolidation among fund platforms, rigorous fee transparency under MiFID II, a continued shift towards passively traded funds and growing digitization of businesses were the key underlying drivers of M&A.
In the Americas, particularly in the US, deal volume declined by 8.1 percent while deal value tumbled by 12 percent. The nation saw one large deal — the merger of Legg Mason and Franklin Resources for US$4.5billion — which solidified consolidation in the market. The acquisition of large RIA firms by RIA platforms, consolidators and aggregators remained a trend during the period.
Deal volume in Europe plummeted by 20.9 percent while value saw a steep decline of 13.8 percent in 1H20 compared to the same period in 2019 (though major economies like France, Germany and the UK saw a dip in deal count while Luxembourg’s deal activity remained stable. Deal volume in Luxembourg remained stable driven by cross border acquisitions of fund servicing platforms by players located in global fund servicing hubs, and by the acquisition of asset managers by players located in neighboring countries. Though fund flows have remained lackluster in the fund management industry, there are plenty of smaller deals happening in the region. Examples include Spain’s Banco de Sabadell which agreed to sell its asset management arm to French asset manager Amundi for US$477 million. Meanwhile France’s Natixis and La Banque Postale SA signed a deal to merge their fixed income and insurance-related asset management businesses. Partnership agreements are also on rise such as Italian investment bank Mediobanca and US fund manager Russell Investments and their launch of their third private markets fund together in 1H20. A notable trend to watch is the increasing focus on ESG investing by asset managers.
ASPAC’s asset management sector remained subdued with a drop in both volume and value by 17.7 percent and 43.6 percent respectively despite an increase in deal activity in June. China (#69), Australia (#24) and South Korea (#16) remained the most attractive deal markets. China’s non-performing loan market is being eyed by many global funds while startup founders with IT and Bio backgrounds and a young generation inheriting wealth are emerging as prime targets for wealth managers in South Korea.
COVID-19 has moved technology to the top of the agenda for many wealth managers given the sudden inability to work traditionally. Very quickly many have had to rethink their business models and find ways to do what they have done for decades using technology. While investment will likely remain soft for the remainder of 2020, the enhanced focus on wealthtech will likely revitalize the space in 2021.
Among the top 5 deals in asset management, most were domestic transactions with one cross-border deal in 1H20. Similar to 2019, there were no major high value transactions (>US$10 bn) announced during the period.
For international transactions, the US remains particularly acquisitive especially in the ASPAC and Western Europe regions. At a regional level, North America and Western Europe proved to be resilient markets.
Asset management accounts were the highest proportion of targets among asset management assets (79 percent) which saw a jump in the proportion of assets compared to 1H19.
Western Europe represents the maximum concentration of available assets followed by Asia Pacific. A high proportion of potential asset management targets are seen in Western Europe, Asia Pacific and North America, while wealth management & private banking assets are concentrated largely in Asia Pacific. Countries with maximum available assets include Italy, the US, Australia and India.
As of Jun’20, BlackRock remained the largest investment manager, with robust investor confidence seen in fixed income ETFs. The easing of lockdown restrictions, relaxed monetary policy from the FED and the EU’s recovery plan have supported equity and credit markets. A large majority (88 percent) of identified managers below saw growth in AuMs over 1Q’20-2Q’20.