MILAN Nov 25 France's Amundi has submitted the
highest offer to buy Italian UniCredit's asset manager, Pioneer,
while a consortium led by Poste Italiane and Ameriprise
Financial are scrambling to stay in the race, three sources
close to the matter said on Friday.
Two of the sources also said that Australia's Macquarie
was practically out of the race because its offer was
the least attractive.
According to the chief executive of Aberdeen Asset
Management, which dropped its bid earlier this month, the bank
has priced the unit at 3.5 billion euros ($3.7 billion) which
Aberdeen considered too high. But one of the sources said the
price was not the only factor UniCredit was taking into account.
Italy's biggest bank is looking to sell Pioneer and other
businesses to boost its stretched capital base. The lender is
also expected to launch a rights issue, and the size of the cash
call will depend on how much money it nets from the disposals.
The sources said a final decision is still uncertain and
confirmed that UniCredit intended to wait until after a
constitutional referendum on Dec. 4 to pick the buyer.
U.S.-based Ameriprise Financial, Amundi,
Poste Italiane and UniCredit declined to
comment. Macquarie was not immediately available for comments.
Pioneer is Europe's sixth-largest asset gatherer and has
assets under management of around 225 billion euros.
As investors around the world search for higher returns,
asset gatherers have grown rapidly in recent years, making them
an appealing target for banks and financial institutions.
The financial wealth of Italian families, excluding
property, totals 3.9 trillion euros ($4.1 trillion).
According to 2014 data, only 32 percent of those funds were
invested in asset management and insurance products, well below
an average in leading European countries - making Italy a
country with high growth potential for asset managers.
($1 = 0.9431 euros)
(Additional reporting by Maria Pia Quaglia and Gianluca
Semeraro; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)