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Financial institutions M&A: Sector trends - January 2021

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January 2021

We highlight the key European M&A trends in the second half of 2020, and provide our insights into the outlook for M&A moving forward.


2020 was a year of unprecedented peaks and troughs for European financial services M&A—a year with glittering prospects hit rock bottom in April, following the onset of the first COVID-19 lockdown. Bumper trading revenues and advisory fees recorded by the Bulge Bracket bolstered market confidence, but dividend bans and fears surrounding loan default levels soon took their toll.

Just when all seemed lost, deal-making rebounded strongly, hastening the commencement of bank consolidation M&A across Europe and the promise of an M&A bull market in 2021.

In this edition, we navigate the choppy financial services M&A landscape of 2020 to bring you key deal highlights and M&A trends across Europe and the UK. Focusing on Banks, Fintech and Other Financial Services, we also provide our insights on the outlook for M&A in H1 2021 and beyond.

Key highlights from H2 2020 include the following:

  • Banks: Mega domestic bank consolidation takes centre stage—Spain leads the charge by way of the CaixaBank / Bankia and Unicaja Banco / Liberbank all-share mergers
  • Fintech: Financial sponsors demand more bang-for-buck, as equity valuation volatility wreaks havoc for funding rounds
  • Asset / Wealth Management: Market consolidation continues at pace, as the COVID-19 pandemic heaps pressure onto smaller managers
  • Payments: Pan-European champions emerge amidst COVID-19 turmoil—Germany (Giropay / Paydirekt), France (Worldline / Ingenico) and Italy (SIA / Nexi)
  • Stock Exchanges / Clearing Houses / Trading Venues: Market infrastructure juggernauts thunder the M&A plains—vertical integration remains a key focus
  • Brokers / Corporate Finance: "Traditional" brokers resort to M&A to survive in the COVID-19 climate, which has materially boosted customer demand for DIY trading platforms
  • Consumer Finance: Financial sponsors back niche providers—child-friendly, gig-economy and POS finance attract interest in H2 2020
  • Specialty Finance / Marketplace Lending: Specialty finance businesses abandon retail investor roots in favour of institutional support

M&A Forecast legend

European financial services M&A trends

Mega domestic bank consolidation takes centre stage— Spain leads the charge

Bank M&A across Europe comes to a boil—the COVID-19 pandemic has hastened the confluence of conducive conditions for mega domestic mergers. Spain and the Balkans lead the charge, with Italy, Germany, France, Poland and the UK expected to follow.


Europe's unicorns lengthen their stride amidst COVID-19 uncertainty—the bold set their sights on IPO in 2021

2020 has been a turbulent year for many fintechs. Established fintechs and startups with deliverable business plans have thrived, while others have suffered the indignity of plummeting valuations and down rounds.

office building statue

Asset/Wealth Management

Market consolidation continues at pace, as the COVID-19 pandemic heaps pressure onto smaller managers

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Pan-European champions emerge amidst the COVID-19 turmoil— Germany (Giropay/Paydirekt), France (Worldline/Ingenico) and Italy (SIA/Nexi)

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Stock Exchanges/Clearing Houses/Trading Venues

Market infrastructure juggernauts thunder the M&A plains—vertical integration remains a key focus

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Brokers/Corporate Finance

"Traditional" brokers resort to M&A to survive in the COVID-19 climate, which has boosted customer demand for DIY online trading platforms

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Consumer Finance

Financial sponsors back niche providers—child-friendly, gig economy and POS finance attract interest in H2 2020

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Specialty Finance/Marketplace Lending

Specialty finance businesses abandon retail investor roots in favour of institutional support

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Asset/Wealth Management

Financial institutions M&A sector trends: asset/wealth management — H2 2020 and outlook for 2021

7 min read

Market consolidation continues at pace, as the COVID-19 pandemic heaps pressure onto smaller managers



Current market

  • High M&A activity levels

We are seeing

  • Consolidation continues at pace:
    •  Across markets with over-capacity—UK tops the leader board with 12 consolidation deals in H2 2020
    • Mostly involving medium-sized and smaller asset/wealth managers, but some larger players (e.g., Amundi's acquisition of Sabadell Asset Management and Natixis and La Banque Postale's asset management merger)
  • Banks prioritise differing business lines:
    • Some banks dispose of non-core asset/wealth management operations (e.g., UBS's disposal of Austrian wealth management business and Öhman Bank's disposal of private banking operations)
    • Other banks deploy acquisition firepower towards high-quality assets (e.g., Morgan Stanley's acquisition of Eaton Vance and Volksbank BraWo's acquisition of AVW Immobilien)
  • Venture capitalists back WealthTech disruptors (e.g., HV Holtzbrinck Ventures' and Tengelmann Ventures' participation in Scalable Capital's €50 million Series D funding round, Eight Roads' participation in Moneybox's £30 million Series C funding round, etc.)

Key drivers/challenges

  • COVID-19 pandemic hastens market pressures:
    • Increased customer demand for on-demand digital offerings, charging lower fees
    • Fee and operating margin pressures from 'lower for longer' sovereign bond yields deterring valueadd from managers seeking to build a balanced portfolios for clients
    • Cost increases from fragmentation across  specialist asset management subsectors (i.e., fund  management, trust administration and debt servicing)
  • Perfect storm for larger managers to consolidate market share:
    • Balance sheet capacity and excess capital availability (e.g., Schroders's acquisition of Sandaire)
    • Availability of attractive non-core dispositions by  banks (e.g., LGT's acquisition of UBS's Austrian  wealth management business) as well as specialist  managers (e.g., Aberdeen Standard's acquisition of  60% of Tritax Management)
    • PE dry powder for buy-and-build strategies (e.g., AnaCap's acquisition of Nova Financial)
    • Strengthening digital offerings (e.g., UCapital24's acquisition of Selfiewealth)

Trends to watch

  • Stressed/distressed opportunities involving smaller active managers which have not been able to leverage 2020 market volatility
  • Rise of customer familiarity with, and trade investment in, WealthTech and robo-advisory, although financial self-sustainability and profitability are likely to allude for longer


Our M&A forecast

Consolidation activity to continue in over-serviced geographies (e.g., UK, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, etc.) and across market segments where scale is key (e.g., fund management, debt servicing, real estate asset management, etc.). 


Other financial services—Publicly reported deals & situations

Market consolidation

Market highlight:

Tilney and Smith & Williamson merged to create the UK's third-largest UK wealth manager when ranked by revenues (pro forma revenue of approximately £530 million) and fourth-largest by AuM (of approximately £47 billion).


  • Stanhope & FWM (UK): Merger (November 2020)
  • Tilney & Smith & Williamson (UK): Merger (September 2020)
  • Amundi (Spain): Acquisition of Sabadell Asset Management (July 2020)
  • Natixis and La Banque Postale (France): Merger of asset management operations (June 2020)


  • Rothschild & Co Bank (Switzerland): Acquisition of Banque Pâris Bertrand Sturdza (December 2020)
  • Oddo BHF (Switzerland): Acquisition of Landolt & Cie (October 2020)
  • Schroders (UK): Acquisition of Sandaire (September 2020)
  • Azimut (US): Acquisition of 51% of Genesis Investment Advisors (September 2020)
  • M&G (UK): Acquisition of Ascentric (September 2020)
  • Quintet Private Bank, Puilaetco, Merck Fink and InsingerGilissen (pan-European): Merger (July 2020)


  • Auréus Group (Netherlands): Acquisition of Ritzer en Rouw (December 2020)
  • Gresham House (Ireland): Acquisition of Appian Asset Management (December 2020)
  • Polar Capital (UK): Acquisition of Dalton Capital (December 2020)
  • Universal-Investment- Gesellschaft (Ireland): Acquisition of Metzler Ireland (December 2020)
  • LGT (Austria): Acquisition of UBS's Austrian wealth management business (December 2020)
  • Candriam (UK): Acquisition of minority stake in Kartesia Management (December 2020)
  • Aberdeen Standard (UK): Acquisition of 60% of Tritax Management (December 2020)
  • ORIX Corp (UK): Acquisition of 70% of Gravis Capital Management (December 2020)
  • WH Ireland (UK): Acquisition of Harpsden Wealth Management (December 2020)
  • Liontrust Asset Management (UK): Acquisition of Architas (November 2020)
  • Alantra (France): Acquisition of 49% of Indigo Capital (October 2020)
  • Intesa Sanpaolo (Switzerland): Acquisition of REYL & Cie (October 2020)
  • Wictor Family Office (Sweden): Acquisition of Quesada Kapitalförvaltning (September 2020)
  • Perspective Financial Group (UK): Acquisition of Jones Hill (September 2020)
  • Amundi (France): Acquisition of 25% stake of Montpensier Finance (September 2020)
  • Schütz Family Office (Luxembourg): Acquisition of Freie Internationale Sparkasse (August 2020)
  • Hof Hoorneman Bankiers (Denmark): Acquisition of Van Lanschot Kempen (August 2020)
  • VP Bank (Luxembourg): Acquisition of Öhman Bank's private banking operations (July 2020)
  • Banque Bonhôte (Switzerland): Acquisition of Private Client Partners (July 2020)
  • Ravenscroft Holdings Limited (Isle of Man): Acquisition of WH Ireland (IOM) (June 2020)


Differing FI prerogatives

The COVID-19 pandemic is increasing the importance of banks' wealth management units, which have supported valuations and provided stable revenue streams. S&P Global (July 2020)

Tag-out (disposals):

  • UBS (Austria): Disposal of Austrian wealth management business (December 2020)
  • Banco Modal (Brazil): Disposal of MAF (October 2020)
  • Sparkasse Bremen (Luxembourg): Disposal of Freie Internationale Sparkasse (August 2020)
  • Falcon Private Bank (Luxembourg): Disposal of Falcon Fund Management Luxembourg (August 2020)
  • Öhman Bank (Luxembourg): Disposal of private banking operations (July 2020)
  • M.M. Warburg (Switzerland): Disposal of Private Client Partners (July 2020)
  • WH Ireland (Isle of Man): Disposal of WH Ireland (IOM) (June 2020)

Tag-in (acquisitions):

  • Volksbank BraWo (Germany): Acquisition of AVW Immobilien (November 2020)
  • Morgan Stanley (US): Acquisition of Eaton Vance (October 2020)


Financial planning M&A

  • TREA Asset Management (Portugal): Acquisition of Novo Activos Financeiras Espana (December 2020)
  • Charterhouse Capital Partners (UK): Acquisition of minority interest in Lane Clark & Peacock (December 2020)
  • Radiant (UK): Acquisition of CWB (November 2020)
  • Fairstone (UK): Acquisition of Chiltern House (August 2020)
  • Curtis Banks (UK): Acquisitions of Talbot, Muir and Dunstan Thomas Group (July 2020)
  • Fairstone (UK): Acquisition of Mantle Financial Planning (July 2020)


PE fund M&A

  • FSN Capital (Denmark): Acquisition of 45% of Obton Group (December 2020)
  • Santander (Spain): Acquisition of 30% stake in Fremman Capital (November 2020)
  • PETRA Group/BlueCompass Management (UK): Acquisition of HWSI Realisation Fund (July 2020)
  • Petershill (UK): Acquisition of c. 10% of Permira (July 2020)


Fund management M&A

Deal highlight:

White & Case represented the management team of Calastone with respect to the negotiation of their equity incentive terms in connection with Carlyle's equity investment in Calastone.

  • Universal-Investment Group (Ireland): Acquisition of Metzler Ireland (December 2020)
  • Apex (Brazil): Acquisition of MAF (October 2020)
  • Carlyle (UK): Acquisition of minority equity interest in Calastone (October 2020)
  • PineBridge Investments (UK): Acquisition of Benson Elliot Capital Management (October 2020)
  • Singular Bank (Spain): Acquisition of Belgravia Capital (October 2020)
  • Alpina Capital (Luxembourg): Acquisition of Falcon Fund Management Luxembourg (August 2020)


Debt-servicing M&A 

  • GetBack (Poland): Acquisition of 51% of Lens Finance (August 2020)
  • Cherry 106 (Italy): Acquisition of 51% of Banco delle Tre Venezie (August 2020)
  • e-Kancelaria (Poland): Acquisition of Vippo (August 2020)


Trust/fund administration M&A

Deal highlight:

White & Case represented Ocorian on its acquisition of Newgate Compliance, a UK FCA-regulated, London-based compliance consultancy and hosted regulatory solutions provider for funds clients.

  • Alter Domus (UK): Acquisition of Credit-Vision (December 2020)
  • Sanne (Denmark): Acquisition of Private Equity Administrators (December 2020)
  • TMF Group (Netherlands): Acquisition of Selectra Management Company (October 2020)
  • Ocorian (UK): Acquisition of Newgate Compliance (September 2020)
  • JTC (Jersey): Acquisition of Sanne Group's private client operations (July 2020)


High investor appetite

Trade consolidators:

  • Etops: Acquisition of Evolute (December 2020)
  • UCapital24: Acquisition of SelfieWealth (August 2020)
  • Universal Investment: Acquisition of CAPinside (July 2020)


  • Wolfgang Stolz: MBO of Prime Capital (November 2020)

Financial sponsors (acquisitions):

  • AnaCap (UK): Acquisition of Nova Financial (December 2020)
  • Summit (South Africa): Acquisition of 21.1% stake in Efficient Group (October 2020)
  • Foresight (UK): Acquisition of Pensions Infrastructure Platform (August 2020)

Financial sponsors (funding rounds):

  • StashAway: Successful US$16 million Series C funding round, led by Square Peg (July 2020)
  • Scalable Capital: Successful €50 million Series D funding round, led by BlackRock, HV Holtzbrinck Ventures and Tengelmann Ventures (July 2020)
  • Moneybox: Successful £30 million Series C funding round, led by Eight Roads and CNP (July 2020)


  • Ecclesia Gruppe: Acquisition of majority stake in Sibbing Adviesgroep (November 2020)
  • ASR Nederland: Acquisition of 50% of Brand New Day IORP (August 2020)


Click here to download 'Financial services M&A stages a herculean comeback in H2 2020, finishing the year on a high' PDF.



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