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Blackstone in exclusive talks to buy majority stake in Advent International-backed asset & wealth management firm ASK Group

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Lata Pillai brings 30 years of experience in banking and real estate space [Representative image]

US private equity giant Blackstone has entered exclusive negotiations to acquire a majority stake in leading asset and wealth management firm ASK Group which is backed by rival private equity firm Advent International, multiple industry sources in the know told Moneycontrol.

“ Post the submission of binding bids by various suitors, Blackstone has entered exclusivity for buying a controlling stake of upto 74 per cent in ASK Group,” one of the persons above said. He added that the combined stake sale split between Blackstone & the firm’s founders wasn’t immediately clear.

A second person told Moneycontrol that the proposed transaction is valuing the ASK group at around a $1bn.

According to reports , Advent International had picked up a stake of about 40 per cent in ASK Group in 2016 for $130 mn giving the entire firm a valuation of $325 mn back then.

“ There are other players including private equity funds in the fray, but as of now Blackstone seems to be in the pole position, and if talks progress smoothly, the transaction is likely to be signed in September, 2021,” elaborated a third person.

A fourth person added that the proposed transaction was in advanced stages. “ It’s a good business ( referring to the target) and the sector has high growth potential,” he added.

All the four persons above spoke to Moneycontrol on the condition of anonymity.

Blackstone, Advent International and Nomura declined to comment in response to a query from Moneycontrol. Moneycontrol is awaiting an email response from ASK Group and has sent reminders. We will update this story as soon as we hear from the firm.

In India, the Blackstone portfolio includes IPO bound Aadhar Housing Finance. The firm’s draft papers are pending approval with Sebi. In late 2020, reports had indicated that the private equity firm was looking to buyout L&T Mutual Fund.

On 13th May 2021, Bloomberg had reported that Advent International was weighing a stake sale in ASK Group.

The last big buyout in the wealth management space was completed in March 2021 when PAG, a leading Asian investment firm acquired 61.5% stake in Edelweiss Wealth Management for ₹2,366 crore. “PAG has made an investment of Rs 2,366 crore in EWM, including primary and secondary investment. In addition, PAG is also acquiring the entire ownership of the prior investors in EWM, Kora Management (Kora) and Sanaka Capital (Sanaka), taking its stake to 61.5%,” the statement had said.

KNOW MORE ABOUT THE ASK GROUP

Some of the peer’s of ASK group in the domestic market include players like IIFL Wealth , Kotak Wealth Management, Edelweiss Group, Motilal Oswal Financial Services, Avendus Group and Julius Baer Group.

The firm has been present in India for over three decades and is represented through its four key businesses: Wealth Advisory and MultiFamily Office Service – ASK Wealth Advisors; Portfolio Management Services – ASK Investment Managers Ltd.; Real Estate Private Equity – ASK Property Investment Advisors; and Private Equity Management – ASK Pravi Capital Advisors.

It has 20 offices and branches across India, Dubai, and Singapore through which it services the needs of clients and caters to multiple asset classes and investors (such as HNI, institutional, family office, pension funds, funds of funds and sovereign wealth funds) across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. The group manages assets of over Rs. 71,500 crores as on 30th June 2021.