FWM Holdings, the owner of Forbes Family Trust, LGL Partners and Optima Fund Management, entered into agreement to merge with London-based global investment firm Stanhope Capital Group.
FWM manages $11.2 billion of assets while Stanhope manages $13 billion.
Keith Bloomfield, the former senior managing director at Third Avenue Management, a New York–based asset management firm, created FWM to service wealthy families, including members of the well-known Forbes family. The Forbes Family Trust manages around $8 billion in assets for family offices. Across the pond, Stanhope is known for advising the Duchy of Lancaster, a multi-million-dollar portfolio of land, property and assets for Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, according to the Financial Times.
Bloomfield said this merger gives both FWM and Stanhope access to a set of investments they wouldn’t have had on their own. About half of Stanhope’s assets are invested in U.S. investments and the merger with FWM gives the British firm access to a large team of investment professionals in the United States. Likewise, Bloomfield said Stanhope expands FWM's access to global markets.
“We basically supercharged both firms’ investment capabilities,” he said.
The new enterprise is claiming the title of the world’s first independent wealth management and advisory firm.
“Surprisingly enough, there aren’t any out there that are truly independent,” said Bloomfield. “What I mean by independent, I mean do not offer products" but engage in investment advisory work and asset allocation.
FWM Holdings and Stanhope will merge only at the holding level but will continue to operate as separate entities. The combined firms have a total of six offices spread across the globe and a staff of 135—50 from FWM and 85 from Stanhope.
The financial details of the merger were not disclosed. However, FWM has exchanged equity with Stanhope. And private equity firm Wealth Partners Capital Group, which had a stake in FWM, sold its investment for cash in the transaction. According to Bloomfield, the private equity firm will receive “various earn outs” to stay on and assist with FWM’s growth.
The merger was set to occur before the COVID-19 pandemic, but due to social distancing measures was delayed.
Bloomfield founded FWM in 2009 in partnership with members of the Forbes family and has since opened its asset management services to other family offices such as the Lenfest family, known for its media and communications empire in the Philadelphia area, represented as LGL Partners, and D. Dixon Boardman’s hedge fund business Optima Fund Management.
“This is a unique opportunity to create a truly global investment firm around the three core values; independence, alignment of interests and creative thinking, which have defined our respective businesses since inception,” said Daniel Pinto, chairman and CEO of the combined group, in a statement.