After a blistering year for mergers and acquisitions among Independent broker dealer in 2013, this year has already seen robust deal making.
Last week, RCS Capital Corp., whose chairman is industry upstart Nicholas Schorsch, said it was buying Cetera Financial Group Inc. for $1.15 billion andJ.P. Turner & Co. for $27 million.
The two deals will add 6,925 registered reps and advisers to Mr. Schorsch’s network of B-Ds when completed later this year, for a total head count of about 9,300.
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And earlier this month, SWS Group Inc., a clearing and retail securities firm with an independent-contractor broker-dealer, said it had received a takeover bid from one of its biggest investors, Hilltop Holdings Inc.
The hot start to buying and selling this year comes after five large Independent broker dealers acquisitions were an-nounced in 2013. The firms totaled 1,960 reps and investment advisers, and had a combined $539 million in gross revenue (based on 2012 numbers ) the last year fresh revenue and rep head count numbers were available).
Two smaller but noteworthy broker-dealer acquisitions were announced in June: Symetra Investment Services Inc. with 280 reps by John Hancock Financial Services Inc., and tax preparer Gilman Ciocia Inc. with 160 independent financial reps by National Holdings Corp.
Compare this with 2012, when three significant acquisitions of independent broker-dealers oc-curred. At the time those deals were announced, the three firms had $420.4 million in gross revenue and 3,530 reps and investment advisers & Changing broker dealers.
“Companies controlled by Mr. Schorsch known as a nontraded REIT czar along with Cetera Financial Group Inc. and Ladenburg Thalman Financial Services Inc., have been the three major acquirers in the marketplace with a tightening supply of firms, “said Steven Insel, an industry veteran M&A attorney and partner at Elkins Kalt Weintraub Reuben Gartside.
There are a lot of buyers chasing fewer sellers,”Mr. Insel said. The question for sellers is if they are willing to sell because they have a distressed situation, like bad reps,” that cost the firm because of arbitration awards that favor investors, he said.
Often deals are done when the seller has problems or there is a succession issue, Mr. Insel said. Insurance companies, which have tended to refocus on their core businesses since the credit crisis, also continue to look for buyers for their broker-dealers, he added.
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