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Ameriprise to Buy BMO Unit

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What You Need to Know

  • Bank of Montreal agreed to sell its Europe, Middle East and Africa asset management unit to Ameriprise Financial.
  • The deal is expected to give Ameriprise an additional $124 billion of AUM.
  • Ameriprise says the deal will accelerate its strategy of growing its fee-based businesses.

Bank of Montreal agreed to sell its Europe, Middle East and Africa asset management unit to Ameriprise Financial Inc. for 615 million pounds ($847 million), marking Chief Executive Officer Darryl White’s biggest move yet to trim the bank’s portfolio of non-core businesses.

The sale also includes the opportunity for some U.S. clients to move to Ameriprise’s Columbia Threadneedle Investments unit, subject to their consent, Toronto-based Bank of Montreal said in a statement Monday.

White, who took the reins of Canada’s fourth-largest lender in 2017, said in January that BMO was looking to “harvest investments” in businesses where the returns weren’t good enough or where the bank didn’t see a path to a leadership position, and then redeploy that capital toward better opportunities. Increased competition on fees and a shift to passively managed investments have hampered profitability in the fund industry, prompting banks including Societe Generale SA and Wells Fargo & Co. to sell their asset-management operations.

Bloomberg News reported in October that BMO was exploring options for its asset-management operations, including seeking a buyer for parts of the business outside its home market.

Ameriprise said in a separate statement that the deal, expected to close in the fourth quarter, will give it an additional $124 billion of assets under management in Europe, bringing its total AUM to more than $1.2 trillion. The acquisition will accelerate Ameriprise’s strategy of growing its fee-based businesses and boost the overall contribution from wealth and asset management, the company said.

Bank of Montreal has weathered the Covid-19 crisis with strong results from its capital-markets unit, which has benefited from a surge in volatility and trading. And while increased provisions to protect against the possibility of rising defaults have weighed on overall earnings, the lender’s North American personal and commercial banking business has been helped by rising deposits and shrinking costs.

Pictured: Ameriprise headquarters in Minneapolis. (Photo: Bloomberg)

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