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EXCLUSIVE Wealth manager Americana Partners bid $25 a share for Westwood Holdings Group

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By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

© Reuters/Kacper Pempel A picture illustration shows a 100 Dollar banknote laying one Dollar banknotes

BOSTON (Reuters) – Wealth manager Americana Partners has made a $25 a share bid for Westwood Holdings Group, offering a nearly 28% premium to take the publicly traded financial advisory and mutual fund firm private, sources familiar with the matter said.

Americana made the all-cash offer for Westwood, which has roughly $15 billion in assets under management, last month, the people said.

Westwood, valued at roughly $165 million, has not yet engaged with Americana, one of the sources said. Its stock closed trading at $19.56 on Tuesday.

A representative for Americana declined to comment.

A representative for Westwood did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While Westwood’s stock price has climbed some 37% since January, Americana believes that Westwood, which is headquartered in Dallas, has produced negative returns over three- and five-year periods. Americana also believes Westwood could perform better out of the spotlight of the public markets, the people said.

Houston-based Americana wants to expand across Texas and sees potential in Westwood’s wealth and trust businesses, the sources said.

The bid was made shortly after Westwood’s largest investor, JCP Investment Management, began pushing management and the board more publicly to consider alternatives for the firm, including a sale.

In a regulatory filing made in April, James C. Pappas, whose JCP Investment Management owns 10.37% of Westwood, said that he intended to speak with management and the board about strategic options.

A representative for JCP declined to comment.

A wave of consolidation has hit the asset management and wealth management industry at a time low interest rates and investor preferences for inexpensive index funds have made it tougher for stand alone firms to compete with rivals such as BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager.

Legg Mason was acquired by Franklin Resources last year and Eaton Vance was purchased by financial services company Morgan Stanley this year.

Last year was a record-setting one for wealth sector deals, with more than 200 completed, according to research firm Echelon Partners.

Americana Partners, which has offices in Houston, Dallas and Austin, was formed in 2019 when its principals spun off from Morgan Stanley.

It has roughly $4.5 billion in assets under management.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; editing by Jason Neely)

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