July 14, 2015 / 8:34 PM / 4 years ago

CI eyes U.S. asset management acquisitions in expansion plan

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian money manager CI Financial Corp (CIX.TO) wants to expand its small presence in the fiercely competitive U.S. market with acquisitions worth C$500 million ($392.25 million) to C$1 billion, its top executive said.

Chief Executive Stephen MacPhail also said that the Toronto-based firm, which manages assets worth C$109 billion now, targets C$150 billion in assets under management over the next three to five years,

CI expects growth to be driven by its investment consulting and advisory businesses, which are benefiting from an industry trend of increased fund flows from wealthy individuals.

MacPhail said the company is taking a measured approach to expansion, and will combine acquisitions with investments in new products and efforts to increase market share.

“We’re not looking for acquisitions that will be game changers for us. We don’t want to bet the farm,” he said in an interview. “If you make a really big acquisition, your focus on your core business starts to slip.”

MacPhail has been with CI since 1994, when he helped take the company public. He became CEO in 2010.

“We like the U.S. the best because we understand it well, and it’s our closest market,” he said.

CI has been fairly acquisitive as a public company and has spent C$2.3 billion on 12 deals since 1999.

Its recent acquisitions include Hartford Investments Canada Corp and a majority stake in Marret Asset Management. Its takeover of the Canadian operations of Assante Corp for C$846 million in 2003 was its biggest acquisition to date.

In the United States, CI owns a 25 percent stake in Greenwich, Connecticut-based Altrinsic Global Advisors, which has about $11.4 billion in assets under management.

CI Financial’s key operating units are investment manager CI Investments, advisory business Assante Wealth Management and Stonegate Private Counsel, which focuses on high net worth clients. CI’s brands include Cambridge, Harbour and Signature.

MacPhail expects the Assante business to hit C$50 billion in assets under administration over the next three years. Assets under administration in the Assante segment were C$31.4 billion at the end of June, up 8.5 percent from the previous year.

He estimated that Stonegate will show annual growth of 15 to 20 percent over the next few years.

Editing by Peter Galloway

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