Only a few private equity firms are bidding including Blackstone Group, Bain Capital, Apollo Global Management and Carlyle Group. However, sources say, they are not a small minority of the bidders. Goldman Sachs & Co. and J.P Morgan & Co. are running the sale.
Management consultants and other sources say Northwestern executives are wading through preliminary indications of interest. Filing such an indication typically entitles bidders access to additional information that they would need in order to make formal indications of interest. The formal indications generally contain a range of offer prices for the company that is for sale under various scenarios.
Northwestern Mutual executives are permitting bids from only the few big private equity firms that can write the entire equity check themselves. Industry insiders say it would total $1.5 billion of equity plus debt and mezzanine financing for the anticipated $3 billion transaction.
Private equity firms are looking at Russell Investments, which managed $257 billion as of Dec. 31, as a portfolio company investment, rather than an add-on to their own businesses. That's what Carlyle did when it acquired Los Angeles money manager TCW Group two years ago.
Kate Stouffer, spokeswoman for Russell Investments, declined to comment beyond supplying Russell data.
Executives at Carlyle, Bain, Apollo and Blackstone all declined to comment. Michael DuVally, Goldman Sachs spokesman and Tasha Pelio, JP Morgan spokeswoman declined comment.
Although the Russell sale has been the center of rumors for months, Northwestern Mutual officials waited until January to acknowledge they were considering a sale.
“Northwestern Mutual believes this is a good time to evaluate strategic alternatives (for Russell), including a sale that could produce attractive returns for the company's policy owners,” Northwestern Mutual officials said in a news release at the time.