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2018 money manager M&A: asset gathering or corporate synergies?

Through late May, there have been 18 money manager M&A deals involving $265.6 billion in assets under management or advisement. The deal count is half of the 36 deals made in all of 2017 and already equal to the number of deals in 2015. What has characterized both the 2017 and 2018 activity has been the amount of assets involved. Hellman & Friedman’s acquisition of Financial Engines’ $169 billion in assets skewed the data for sure, but when removed, the average AUM acquired was still about $6 billion in 2018 year-to-date, higher than 2017’s $5.7 billion. Both were significantly higher than the average assets acquired in the prior two years.

The bulk of 2018’s deals have been the acquisition of single asset class managers, particularly alternatives managers.