Towers Watson to buy multiasset fund manager Oxford Investment Partners

Paul Martin
“We were looking ahead as to whether we should renew our contract with Towers Watson, which was due to expire in 2013, and that eventually led to our realization of the need to work closer together to grow,” Paul Martin, OXIP's chief operating officer, said

Towers Watson agreed to acquire Oxford Investment Partners, a multiasset fund manager with about $1 billion in assets under management mostly on behalf of pension funds, charities and university endowments, said Paul Martin, OXIP's chief operating officer.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

OXIP, which has been advised by Towers Watson since it was established in 2006, will likely be integrated into Towers Watson's investment business, spokesman Paul Deane-Williams said in an e-mail.

Karl Sternberg and Paul Berriman, co-directors and lead fund managers, will continue to manage the suite of multiasset pooled funds offered by the firm. It is not known yet what their titles will be after the deal closes. Mr. Sternberg was formerly chief investment officer of Deutsche Asset Management and Mr. Berriman was CEO of Deutsche Asset Management UK before launching OXIP.

Mr. Martin said in a telephone interview: “We were looking ahead as to whether we should renew our contract with Towers Watson, which was due to expire in 2013, and that eventually led to our realization of the need to work closer together to grow.”

OXIP's main fund-of-funds strategy combines illiquid assets such as private equity, infrastructure and real estate with more liquid investments, including hedge funds. Earlier this year, OXIP also launched a liquid version of its investment strategy aimed at the defined contribution market.

“We wanted to bring our diversified approach to managing assets to the DC market,” Mr. Martin added.

The acquisition, which is expected to close in March, will expand Towers Watson's asset management capabilities, particularly in fiduciary management.

“We are always looking to respond to the changing needs of our clients, and bringing OXIP into Towers Watson is another such example,” according to Chris Ford, head of investment for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Towers Watson. “In doing so, we are meeting the need of clients to gain access to a spread of best-in-class managers across a diverse range of asset classes, but in a simple and cost-effective way.”