For the second time in about six weeks, a foreign financial player has entered the Canadian market. But rather than build from the ground up, the financial players, Spanish in one case and French in the other, have made their entry through the acquisition of an established player.
In mid-September, Banco Santander, S.A. announced the $298-million acquisition of TSX-listed Carfinco Financial Group Inc. Headquartered in Edmonton, but with operations in all provinces, Carfinco specializes in non-prime consumer vehicle financing. It works with more than 2,200 dealers and purchases loans made by those dealers - provided they are done according to Carfinco's standards.
At the time, Santander said the agreement signed with Carfinco "allows us to enter a market with good growth potential such as Canada, where we hope to reach agreements with other car manufacturers like those we have signed in other countries." Carfinco's shareholders will vote on the transaction next week. Santander, formed in 1857, has a similar business in the U.S. to what it is buying in Canada.
Now comes word that French-headquartered Natixis Global Asset Management plans to acquire NexGen Financial Corporation, a TSX-Venture listed money manager formed in 2005.
Natixis, which has a substantial operation in Boston, offered $7.25 a share for NexGen - a healthy premium to its recent trading price. NexGen's shareholders will vote on the transaction, which is being done by way of a plan of arrangement, later this year.
"We met them some time ago and they were looking for an entry in Canada. It seemed like a great opportunity for us, but we engaged bankers to make sure our shareholders were treated fairly," said Abe Goenka, NexGen's co-chief executive officer.
Natixis, which manages more than $930-billion of client assets, said the purchase of NexGen, means it "will be better positioned to serve the market with our worldwide network of affiliated investment managers."
Indeed, part of the rationale for the acquisition is that Natixis plans to expand on NexGen's existing mutual fund platform of 30 funds. "They saw a great opportunity in the Canadian market to bring some of their top quality product here," added Goenka.
And for that it would seem well positioned. Natixis defines itself as a multi-affiliate organization that "offers a single point of access to more than 20 specialized investment firms in the U.S., Europe and Asia."
NexGen was formed by James Hunter, the former chairman and chief executive at Mackenzie Financial (now part of IG Investment Management) "to develop value added investment solutions for financial advisors and their clients." Specifically, the company focused on creating tax efficient products.
Since formation, NexGen's assets under management have grown to about $900-million. It employs eight portfolio managers, seven of whom are external. Jeff Young, the chief investment officer, is its sole internal manager. NexGen is home to 26 employees, all of whom will stay when the acquisition is complete.
Buying a mutual fund manager in Canada is part of a wider international expansion by Natixis, a unit of Groupe BPCE, France's second-largest bank.
(BPCE was formed as a result of the 2009 merger of CNCE and BFBP.) Last year it established a retail platform in the U.K and has since launched several mutual funds.