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Schorsch’s Realty Cap to Buy Summit Financial for $49 Million

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Broker-dealer experts have wondered which deal real estate investor Nicholas Schorsch and RCS Capital Corp. (RCAP) were likely to add to the “done” list in the final months of 2013, and Schorsch answered that question early Monday: Summit Financial Services Group (SMMF) for $49 million.

When asked why RCAP has grabbed up Summit and Investor’s Cap, “The reasons are fairly simple,” Schorsch said in an interview with ThinkAdvisor. “They’re both terrific companies, and both are public … which means there’s a lot of transparency around their performance and transactions … More important, they are a good fit for us, given their [reach] up and down the East Coast.”

Industry experts had expected that NEXT Financial would be, well, next on the list; they note that NEXT could still be bought this year, since there are about six weeks left on the calendar.

“They’re on a tear,” said Jon Henschen, a recruiter who specializes in placing reps with independent broker-dealers. “They bought First Allied, brought in Larry Roth from the AIG-owned Advisor Group, acquired Investor’s Capital [for $52 million] and now are buying Summit. This is a lot of purchases in a short amount of time.”

According to RCAP, Summit has more than 300 financial advisors in 230 offices and over $7.5 billion of assets under management.

How is RCAP able to win over new BDs? “They promise to buy the BD and leave things alone, which can be very attractive,” Henschen said.

Plus, at publicly traded firms like Investor’s Capital (ICH) and Summit, advisors get stock options based on production. “So reps should be getting a piece of the pie” from these deals, the recruiter said.

With former IBD executive Roth at the helm of Realty Capital Securities, the nontraded REIT broker-dealer and wholesaler arm of RCS Capital, the acquired BD could see some changes. “He could help consolidate or advocate for consolidating some back-office operations,” Henschen noted, but wouldn’t want to tinker too much with Summit’s reputed high level of advisor support.

The success of acquisitions, he adds, is problematic. It can depend on the cultural mix of the two firms and the level of transparency in the merger.

Summit Chairman and CEO Marshall T. Leeds acknowledged the desire of his firm to keep its independence and yet rely on RCAP’s capital, in a statement, saying, “We believe that RCAP’s commitment to maintain[ing] the separate identity and culture of its broker-dealers, while at the same time allowing them to leverage the resources of what we believe to be one of the industry’s fastest growing and most innovative firms, will result in the realization of our shared vision of providing even greater opportunities for Summit.”

The Summit deal is subject to shareholder approval.

Shareholders are suing over the Investor’s Capital acquisition. Former SEC attorney Willie Briscoe of the law firm Powers Taylor says he is looking into the issue of whether shareholders are receiving “adequate compensation for their shares in the proposed sale, whether the transaction undervalues ICH stock, and whether ICH’s board attempted to obtain the highest share price for all shareholders prior to agreeing to the deal.”

“The Summit news came out of the blue,” added Henschen. “It didn’t seem to be on anyone’s radar.”

Check out NEXT Financial Seen as Ripe for Schorsch’s Next Big Buy on ThinkAdvisor.