At least six final bidders remain in the running to buy Russell Investments, according to offshore media reports.
The Financial Times (FT) last week named global asset consulting firm, Towers Watson and Ameriprise, owner of funds management firm Threadneedle, as second-round bidders for the Russell Investments business, along with an anonymous Chinese firm and a couple of private equity firms.
According to the report, one of the initial bidders, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, may have dropped out of the process, which is being managed by Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase.
“[Sources] said that the interest from Towers Watson, which is focused on consulting rather than asset management, may mean that other risk managers such as insurance brokers Aon and Marsh and McLennan [owners of Mercer] are also following the process closely,” the FT story says.
The London Stock Exchange (LSE), which bought the Frank Russell Company in 2014 for about US$2.7 billion, confirmed this February it would spin off the group’s investments and asset consulting arm.
In a recent statement, LSE said it had fielded “a good number of indications of interest” in the Russell Investments business, which is tipped to sell for up to $1.5 billion.
The LSE will keep the Russell index business, combining it with its existing FTSE indices arm. Collectively, over US$9 trillion in assets globally are benchmarked to the combined indices, including US$5 trillion against Russell’s.
According to just-published LSE results, US$400 billion in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are linked to the group’s combined indices, with US$242 billion against FTSE benchmarks.
Globally, Russell Investments has about US$272 billion in its multi-management funds business, according to the LSE results.
Russell Investments New Zealand provides funds management and investment consultancy services to a range of charities, super funds and other entities, including the BNZ KiwiSaver scheme, which recently topped $500 million in funds under management.
Wellington-based firm, Implemented Investment Solutions, which distributes Russell products to the NZ retail and wholesale markets, recently reported funds under management of almost $900 million.
Alister van der Maas, Russell NZ chief, was unable to comment on the latest developments.