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CI Financial CEO Kurt MacAlpine

Bain, Abu Dhabi Buy Stake in CI Financial’s US Wealth Unit

The transaction means immediate financial relief, allowing CI Financial to pay down some of the debt it accumulated when it acquired dozens of wealth management offices across the US.

(Bloomberg) -- Canadian asset manager CI Financial Corp. is selling a 20% stake in its US wealth management unit to a group of investors including Bain Capital LP and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. The shares soared. 

The $1 billion cash injection gives the business an enterprise value of about $5.3 billion, CI said in a statement that also named Ares Management Corp. and the state of Wisconsin as members of the investor group. The deal was reported first by the Wall Street Journal. 

CI rose 44% to C$18.05, the highest in more than a year, as of 9:42 a.m. in Toronto.  

For CI, the transaction means immediate financial relief, allowing it to pay down some of the debt it accumulated when it acquired dozens of wealth management offices across the US as part of a new growth strategy by Chief Executive Officer Kurt MacAlpine. CI announced an offer to purchase its bonds due in 2024, 2025 and 2027.

The Canadian financial firm announced plans last year to take the US division public, and still intends to do so in the future, MacAlpine told analysts. 

Read more: CI Financial Cut to Junk After Asking S&P to Suspend Ratings

“We capitalized on an opportunity to accomplish in the private markets the objectives we sought in the IPO – value creation for our shareholders, an infusion of capital to materially deleverage, and the opportunity to build relationships with leading long-term investors,” he said in the statement. 

CI’s net leverage ratio will fall to 2.7 times from 4 times, the company said. The firm’s stock market value, including both its US business and its profitable Canadian fund management arm, was just C$2.3 billion ($1.7 billion) as of Wednesday’s close, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It has been buying back shares, but executives have expressed frustration at the company’s low valuation as the market has grown more concerned about the debt. 

“The CI board is thrilled by the outcome of this transaction, which creates substantial value for our shareholders and represents an attractive alternative to an IPO of CI US,” Chairman Bill Holland said. “We have retained majority ownership of CI US while partnering with world-class investors and adding new directors at CI US.”

What Bloomberg Intelligence Says

CI’s agreement to sell 20% of its US Wealth business to a group of institutional investors can establish a strong value to its remaining stake, we believe. The deal prices the US Wealth unit alone at C$6.7 billion, about 3x CI’s overall market cap or 25.6x adjusted Ebitda, consistent with the top end of similar deals. 

— Ethan Kaye, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst

Read more: CI Financial’s US Deal Spree Gets a Cold Shoulder From Investors

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