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Religare Eyes US Asset Managers

03 February, 2010

Indian financial services group Religare Enterprises Ltd is on the hunt for U.S. and European asset managers in a bid to build a multi-boutique investment management business, an executive said on Tuesday.

Religare is looking to buy controlling stakes in independent managers focused on a range of different asset classes, like equity, fixed income and private equity, Managing Director Matthew Mongia told Reuters in an interview.

Religare, which was one of the finalists in the auction of American International Group Inc’s asset management division last year, could announce its first U.S. acquisition within weeks, Mongia said.

The deal would be among one of several acquisitions, primarily in the United States, that the company is planning, Mongia said. Religare is involved in a number of discussions and would add staff if needed to manage further deals.

“This is a revolutionary concept for an Indian financial services firm — to come into this geography and make acquisitions,” said Mongia, who is charged with building out the asset management business outside India. “That is, at this point, exclusively to be done by inorganic means, via acquisition of existing asset management businesses.”

Religare, founded by the family of Indian industrialist Malvinder Singh, has about $4 billion in assets under management in its Indian asset management business, he said.

Religare was prepared to pay between $400 million and $600 million for the AIG business, Mongia said, and added that it may spend in that range for other deals as well.

The U.S. insurer finally agreed in September last year to sell the business to Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li’s Pacific Century Group for about $500 million.

In terms of assets under management, Religare is looking at a range from $3 billion to $5 billion on the low end to as high as the nearly $90 billion that the AIG business had, Mongia said.

For the right opportunity, though, the company is willing to go beyond those deal values and sizes, said Mongia, 38, who took on the role in February of last year.

Such opportunities include top firms in their respective investment domains and growth-oriented management teams that want to collaborate with an Asia-based firm, he said.

Religare plans to buy stakes ranging from 51 percent to 75 percent in these businesses, as against taking 100 percent ownership, in a bid to give an incentive to existing management to continue growing the business, he said.

The company also plans to provide a mechanism for these teams to flip their equity into that of the Religare holding company, giving them a piece of all the other affiliates and aligning everyone’s interests, Mongia said.

Besides India, Religare has presence in markets such as Brazil, Dubai and Hong Kong, and it intends to use its network to provide the asset managers it buys with infrastructure support, growth capital and access to emerging markets.

Religare’s founding family controlled Ranbaxy Laboratories until 2008, when the family agreed to sell its stake in the Indian drug maker to Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo.

The family’s other interests include Fortis Healthcare Ltd hospital chain, Super Religare Laboratories Ltd pathological laboratories and Religare Technova Ltd information-technology business.


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Religare Eyes US Asset Managers

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