Wells Fargo says no immediate plans to buy a UK-based asset manager

Wells Fargo branch is seen in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois
A Wells Fargo branch is seen in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois, February 10, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

November 9, 2015

By Angus Berwick

LONDON (Reuters) – Wells Fargo <WFC.N> has no immediate plans to buy an asset manager in Britain, the U.S. bank’s regional president said, after a newspaper report said it was considering moves for several firms.

The Sunday Times said the fourth largest U.S. bank was considering takeovers of British fund managers including Henderson <HGGH.L> and Jupiter <JUP.L> – worth 3.3 billion pounds ($5 billion) and 2.1 billion pounds respectively – to spearhead an expansion abroad.

But Jim Johnston, president of the bank’s Europe, Middle East and Africa division, told Reuters: “We don’t have any immediate plans to acquire a UK-based investment firm.”

Analysts said the report was believable, but doubted any takeovers were imminent.

“The asset management industry is ripe for consolidation, with a bank, insurance company and/or larger asset manager all possible acquirers,” Peter Lenardos, analyst for RBC Capital Markets, said in a note.

“The weaker British pound against the U.S. dollar makes a takeover of a UK-listed asset manager particularly attractive,” he added.

The report follows speculation of other deals in the British asset management sector. Aberdeen Asset Management <ADN.L> denied in October a report that said it was looking for a buyer after an extended stock price decline..

Shares in both Henderson and Jupiter hit three-month highs following the report, although they handed back some of their gains following Wells Fargo’s comments.

($1 = 0.6628 pounds)

(Reporting by Angus Berwick; Editing by Simon Jessop and Mark Potter)