Morgan Stanley just announced its biggest acquisition in a decade and agreed to pay the largest premium of any major financial deal this year. It may just be getting started.
The firm, which said it will spend $900 million for stock-plan administration company Solium Capital Inc., isn’t ruling out acquiring traditional wealth-management firms as well as more financial-technology companies, people familiar with the matter said Monday. Future deals might be aimed at adding scale to Morgan Stanley’s $400 billion asset manager, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private strategies.
Chief Executive Officer James Gorman is turning to takeovers after mostly focusing since the 2008 financial crisis on improving performance and integrating its Smith Barney purchase. That process was long and costly, but ultimately created a workforce of more than 15,000 financial advisers with the highest return on equity of any division at the bank.
“As we’ve said, we’d look to pursue more,” Andy Saperstein, co-head of wealth management at Morgan Stanley, said in an interview. He declined to be more specific.
Morgan Stanley agreed to pay 43 percent more than Solium’s closing price on Friday because the acquisition is being valued based on what it would be worth when combined with a bank of Morgan Stanley’s size, the people said.