Italian asset manager moves beyond advice

Italian asset manager Azimut, which has partnered with Paul Barrett's AZ Next Generation Advisory (AZ NGA) advice firm acquisition venture, has this morning announced that it is moving into Australian funds management.

Azimut, one of Italy's leading independent asset managers, via its fully owned Luxembourg holding company, AZ International Holdings, has inked a deal with Australian equities value manager Sigma Funds Management.

Azimut has signed a binding sale and purchase agreement to form an investment management partnership in Australia. AZ International will own 51 per cent of Sigma's capital, while Sigma's executives will retain a 49 per cent stake.

Sigma was established in August 2009 by an ex-Credit Suisse team of six founding partners, comprising an investment team averaging 22 years of experience in large- and small-cap Australian equities.


"Azimut and Sigma have agreed to leverage Sigma's solid track record and investment know-how in order to build a long-term franchise in equity markets and widen its distribution capabilities," an Azimut release said.

The deal comes after it was announced in late 2014 that Azimut had established AZ NGA, headed up by former CBA and ANZ executive Paul Barrett, to acquire Australian financial advice businesses.

By early this year, AZ NGA had entered into agreements to purchase nine advice businesses, with the latest being CBA-aligned Wealthwise in March.

Commenting on the Sigma deal, director of AZ International Holdings, Massimo Guiati, said: "Sigma has worked hard to develop a unique Australian equities capability across large caps and small caps. Since coming together in 2007, the Sigma team has demonstrated discipline and focus in implementing their 'value risk adjust' philosophy. I believe the partnership with Azimut offers a significant opportunity for clients that will lead to growth in the business."

Stephen Giubin, director of Sigma, said the deal would allow Sigma to "cement its position as an Australian equities manager".

He added: "Azimut offers Sigma the opportunity to cement its position as an Australian Equities manager. We would like to thank Pinnacle for its support as a shareholder since 2011 and look forward to our ongoing relationship across marketing and fund services."

Ian Macoun, Pinnacle's managing director, said: "The approach from Azimut was very attractive for Sigma, and we believe the complementary cultures of Azimut and Sigma provide a strong foundation to develop their joint venture locally. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Sigma in building a strong presence in the Australian institutional market."

Subject to regulatory and other approvals, the closing of the transaction is expected to occur this month.

Italian asset manager moves beyond advice
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