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Asset management deal

Martin Currie in focus as Franklin buys Legg Mason

Saltire Court

Martin Currie is based at Saltire Court

Franklin Resources’ agreed $4.5bn acquisition of rival Legg Mason has turned Scottish attention on the Edinburgh-based asset manager Martin Currie.

The deal will create a $1.5 trillion asset manager in the latest move to consolidate global funds.

Martin Currie was acquired by Legg Mason in 2014 and is run as an independently managed investment affiliate.

Investors’ appetite for expensive, actively managed funds – the area of specialism at Martin Currie – is on the wane and the popularity of cheaper, passive funds is increasing. This has sent fees lower, led to thousands of job cuts and forced large-scale consolidation.

Recent mergers in Britain include Standard Life’s tie-up with Aberdeen Asset Management and Liontrust’s takeover of Neptune. US Invesco bought OppenheimerFunds from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.

On Monday, Jupiter Fund Management agreed to acquire UK asset manager Merian Global Investors.

Franklin Resources, which operates under the Franklin Templeton brand, was founded in New York in 1947 as a Wall Street brokerage. The company, was valued at $12.9 billion yesterday.

The announcement comes less than a year after activist investor Trian Fund Management took a 4.5% stake in Legg Mason.

It values Legg Mason at $50 per share, a 23% premium to the Baltimore-based company’s share price Friday. Franklin will assume about $2 billion in Legg Mason debt, according to the statement. 

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