A French asset manager has made its first foray into the U.S. wealth management market. Paris-based iM Global Partner announced plans this week to buy Litman Gregory, a wealth management and asset management firm in Walnut Creek, Calif.
iM Global Partner will take a 100% stake in Litman Gregory, which is currently owned by 12 remaining shareholders, four of which are retired, and Rosemont Investment Partners, a boutique private equity firm in Larkspur, Calif. that took a minority investment in 2013.
Details of the deal were not disclosed.
iM Global will use the asset management firm, which has about $4 billion in assets under management and $2.2 billion in assets under advisement, as an extension of its distribution subsidiary, iM Global U.S. The U.S. arm was set up in 2018 in Los Angeles and has a mutual fund and two active ETFs in its offering.
Litman Gregory, which manages six mutual funds, has a distribution footprint that complements iM Global’s global and U.S. efforts, said Jeff Seeley, deputy CEO, U.S. chief operating officer and head of U.S. distribution at iM Global. The deal will also help both firms expand into new markets; Litman Gregory mainly focuses on RIAs, bank trusts, institutions and endowments, while iM has a brokerage and independent broker/dealer emphasis.
The wealth management business will remain independent of the changes to occur on the asset management side of the company, but iM will invest where needed for growth opportunities and improvement to client services.
Litman Gregory was originally established as a wealth management firm by Ken Gregory and Craig Litman in 1987. The firm evolved over time to include other revenue streams. It launched mutual funds starting in 1996, a research-publishing business known as AdvisorIntelligence in 2000 and portfolio strategies.
“All of those revenue streams allow us to punch way above our weight class,” said Steve Savage, CEO of Litman Gregory.
Savage added that the firm wasn’t looking to be acquired. It had hopes of staying independent, which is why it sold a minority piece of its company to Rosemont. The investment was to help with the firm’s succession plan, and once Litman was settled, it would buy the company back.
“Litman Gregory was one of our first investments in Fund III, and we have enjoyed a productive relationship since 2013,” said Brad Mook, managing director at Rosemont.
iM Global is an international company that typically makes minority investments in boutique asset management firms. The firm has made minority investments in six European asset managers. In its first full acquisition, the firm bought Luxembourg-based Oyster Funds from SYZ Group in 2020. Executives said they would close on a second full acquisition in the coming year.