Old Mutual Asset Management's search for the leader to take the multiboutique firm public looks set to extend into the new year, with skeptics seeing the odds of a sale as high as the odds of an eventual listing.
The hunt for OMAM's third CEO in three years, launched after the September departure of Thomas M. Turpin, has focused on executives with experience leading multiboutique operations.
Several investment bankers, who declined to be named, pointed to John T. Hailer, president and CEO of Boston-based Natixis Global Asset Management, U.S., as the leading candidate for the job. But on Dec. 22, Natixis spokeswoman Faith Yando reported that Mr. Hailer is “not interested” in the position.
Other possibilities include Peter Bain, who left as senior executive vice president in charge of affiliate management and corporate strategy at Legg Mason Inc. in March 2009, and Ted Truscott, the CEO of U.S. asset management and president, annuities at Ameriprise Financial.
For now, parent company Old Mutual PLC remains committed to listing its U.S. money management business around the end of 2012, with officials at the parent company saying they'll wait for the business to add more momentum before moving ahead with an IPO.
Through a spokesman, Julian Roberts, the group CEO of London-based Old Mutual, declined to comment about potential changes to OMAM's business strategy until the search for its next CEO is completed.
Market veterans say a new CEO can't be installed soon enough, with OMAM's uncertain future adding another hurdle for clients considering hiring the firm's boutiques. “The strategic uncertainty is really killing them,” said an executive familiar with the firm, who declined to be named.
Industry veterans say a new growth strategy is in order, following a period of drift after CEO Scott Powers left in April 2008 to take the helm at State Street Global Advisors. Adding to the uncertainty was the hit Old Mutual PLC took as financial markets collapsed in 2008, leaving the parent under pressure to sell assets to shore up its balance sheet.
Amid the turmoil, OMAM has kept a relatively low profile, adding an investment team or two while rival multiboutique organizations such as BNY Mellon Asset Management and Affiliated Managers Group were making more substantial investments.
Most recently, in July, OMAM set up an international equity investment team led by veteran portfolio manager Hans van den Berg as the group's latest boutique, West Conshohocken, Pa.-based Echo Point Investment Management.
By contrast, in November 2009, BNY Mellon Asset Management acquired Insight Investment Management — a London-based liability-driven investment specialist with $132 billion in assets under management — for $387 million. Boston-based AMG, meanwhile, made four acquisitions over the past year, including its biggest investment to date: the June purchase of London-based private equity fund-of-funds manager Pantheon Ventures for more than $775 million.