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Macquarie is hunting for acquisition targets in Europe’s asset management sector as the Australian financial services group attempts to strengthen its position in the region’s investment industry.

Acquisitions have been central to Macquarie’s A$472bn ($358bn) asset management arm, which has developed into one of the group’s main profit drivers over the past decade. It is one of a number of suitors interested in Old Mutual Global Investors, the £35bn asset management arm of Old Mutual, the FTSE 100-listed insurer.

“We regularly consider how to add a third leg to the stool alongside our existing Australasian and US [fund management] operations,” said Shemara Wikramanayake, head of Macquarie’s asset management arm. To date, the group’s operations in Europe have focused on infrastructure, transport, energy and commodity investment strategies.

She declined to comment on targets but said any deal needed to fit with Macquarie’s teams. “Growing inorganically [through acquisitions] presents more challenges. It is a delicate process in terms of bringing cultures together.”

A Macquarie-led consortium paid £2.3bn in April to buy the UK’s Green Investment Bank as part of a push to build a bigger presence in renewable energy markets globally.

Macquarie’s largest acquisition was a $428m deal in 2009 for US fund manager Delaware Investments from Lincoln Financial, which was then struggling under a $4.6bn debt load. That deal signalled Macquarie’s intention to develop from a specialist infrastructure manager into a global company.

“The focus for the first five years [following the acquisition] was ensuring stability of the teams employed by Delaware and then getting the cultures of both businesses to mesh,” said Ms Wikramanayake.

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