Global investment manager Apollo has agreed to merge with retirement services company Athene in an all-stock transaction implying a total equity value of approximately $11 billion for the latter. The combined company will be led by incoming Apollo CEO Marc Rowan.
NEW YORK and HAMILTON, Bermuda, March 08, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Apollo (NYSE: APO) and Athene (NYSE: ATH) have entered into a definitive agreement to merge in an all-stock transaction that implies a total equity value of approximately $11 billion for Athene. Under the terms of the transaction, each outstanding Class A common share of Athene will be exchanged for a fixed ratio of 1.149 shares of Apollo common stock. Upon closing of the merger, current Apollo shareholders will own approximately 76% of the combined company on a fully diluted basis, and Athene shareholders will own approximately 24%.
The merger of Apollo and Athene combines two growth companies providing products and services that are in high demand – investment returns and retirement income. The stronger capital base and complete alignment will allow the company to rapidly scale asset and liability origination, broaden distribution channels and act as a leading global solutions provider. The company will operate in an environment powered by strong market and demographic trends.
Apollo Co-Founder and incoming CEO Marc Rowan said, “This merger is all about alignment between Apollo and Athene, amongst Apollo’s stockholders and with our limited partners. For Apollo and Athene, we will have total alignment to optimize our strategy and allocate capital efficiently, which will include rapidly scaling our capability to originate attractive risk/reward assets, which are the limiter of growth for both firms. We have also created alignment among all our stockholders who will share in the upside of a larger, more liquid company with leading corporate governance. And it further aligns interests with our fund investors, giving us a bigger balance sheet to invest alongside clients in our various fund products.”
Apollo Founder and Chairman Leon Black said, “Apollo occupies an enviable position in our industry, and we have been keenly focused on how to evolve our differentiated platform for long-term success. The Apollo Athene combination is all about alignment, turbo charging growth initiatives and dramatically enhancing shareholder value. Apollo’s conversion to a simplified structure with a single class of common stock with equal voting rights and empowering the full Board with management responsibility of the business are also two significant steps towards these ends.”
Apollo Co-Founder Josh Harris said, “This merger is an important and strategic step for our firm’s growth. Unlike mergers with a high degree of execution risk, this union cements the coming together of two firms that have maintained a close partnership for more than a decade. As a firm, we continue to demonstrate leadership, strategic differentiation and superior performance across our investment platform.”
Athene Chairman and CEO Jim Belardi said, “Today’s announcement reflects the strength and strategic nature of our longstanding mutually beneficial relationship with Apollo – one which has already created enormous value for each other and our respective constituents. After carefully reviewing Athene’s options to unlock value for shareholders, Athene and Apollo determined that the potential of a fully aligned business would be significantly greater than a sum-of-the-parts. Coming together in this merger is a logical and exciting next step that will simplify our relationship while driving significant strategic and financial benefits in both the immediate and long-term future.”
- 100% stock-for-stock, intended to qualify as a tax-free transaction for U.S. federal income tax purposes
- Substantially accretive transaction, strengthening earnings power of the combined company to more than double Apollo’s reported earnings in 2020
- Full alignment between Apollo and Athene, with all stockholders participating in the upside
- $1.60 annual dividend following closing with increase based on growth of the business
- Apollo proceeds with conversion to simplified structure, with single class of voting stock and equal voting rights for each share
- Creates $29bn pro forma market cap company (valued as of 3/5/21 close); company expected to be eligible for S&P 500 inclusion, with transparent, best-in-class governance
- Establishes permanency of Athene’s AUM to Apollo and organic integration of Apollo’s value-add services to Athene, enabling both businesses to thrive symbiotically
- Low execution risk between complementary businesses and management teams
- Positive for credit rating agencies and policyholders across both companies
Management and the Board
The combined company will be led by incoming Apollo CEO Marc Rowan. The key benefits of the merger will be derived from increased coordination and alignment, not consolidation. The merger is not predicated on synergies of personnel or cost savings, and the combined company expects to grow its workforce commensurate with growth of the business.
Apollo’s business will continue to be led by Co-Presidents Scott Kleinman and James Zelter. There will be no change to the platform, day-to-day portfolio management or investment processes and approvals.
Athene will continue to be led by CEO Jim Belardi with his current management team and full workforce. There will be no change to Athene’s platform, investment processes or approvals. Athene’s historic emphasis on providing exceptional policyholder service, being a leading provider of retirement savings products, and maintaining strong financial strength and regulatory relationships, will remain.
The Board of Directors of the combined company will be a diverse, 18-member Board that is two-thirds independent. Four directors of Athene are expected to join the combined company Board including Jim Belardi. Chairman Leon Black, Co-Founder Josh Harris and Lead Independent Director Jay Clayton will continue to serve in their respective roles.
The companies intend for the transaction to qualify as a tax-free transaction for U.S. federal income tax purposes so that it will be tax efficient for Athene shareholders. Apollo, together with certain of its related parties and employees, currently owns approximately 35% of the outstanding Athene Class A common shares.
A special committee of certain disinterested members of the Athene Board of Directors and the conflicts committee of the Apollo Board of Directors, in consultation with their respective independent financial and legal advisors, unanimously approved the merger and determined it to be fair from a financial point of view and in the best interests of their respective shareholders. The Athene and Apollo boards also approved the merger. In consideration of the transaction, Apollo representatives on the Athene Board of Directors recused themselves from any discussion of the merger.
Timing and Approvals
The transaction is expected to close in January of 2022. The transaction requires the approval of shareholders of both Apollo and Athene, and is subject to, among other things, the expiration or termination of the applicable waiting periods under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended, other antitrust and regulatory approvals, and other customary closing conditions.
Apollo Corporate Governance Updates
Apollo also announced that the conflicts committee of its board of directors has approved changes that will result in a simpler, more transparent corporate structure, with a single class of common stock, and “one share/one vote” to ensure that the voting rights of shareholders align with their economic interests. The conversion is expected to be completed in January of 2022.
Apollo is also taking steps to empower the full board of directors to retain authority for managing the business by amending its current charter to eliminate the special governance rights provided to the Executive Committee. The industry-leading corporate governance enhancements underway at Apollo also include the expansion of the Board to be two-thirds independent and the appointment of Jay Clayton as Lead Independent Director.
The enhancements build on Apollo’s progress to-date to expand its shareholder base, including converting from a publicly traded partnership to a corporation in September of 2019 and securing inclusion on the Russell 1000 index in June of 2020. Completion of these additional changes is expected to make Apollo eligible for inclusion on the S&P 500. The completion of the corporate governance updates and related transactions is subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals.
Apollo is represented by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP as legal counsel in connection with the proposed transaction. The conflicts committee of the Apollo Board of Directors is represented by Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. Barclays served as financial advisor to the conflicts committee of the Apollo board in connection with the merger. Perella Weinberg Partners LP served as financial advisor to the conflicts committee of the Apollo board in connection with Apollo’s corporate governance updates.
Athene is represented by Sidley Austin LLP as legal counsel and the special committee and disinterested members of Athene’s Board of Directors are represented by Latham & Watkins LLP. Walkers Global represented Athene’s special committee on matters of Bermuda law. Lazard Frères & Co. and Houlihan Lokey served as financial advisors to the special committee of Athene’s board and each provided fairness opinions.
Investor Call Details
Apollo and Athene will host a joint conference call at 8:30 a.m. ET on Monday, March 8 to discuss the transaction. A supplemental presentation discussing the transaction is available on the apollo.com/stockholders and ir.athene.com websites.
- Live conference call: Toll-free at +1 (833) 614-1406 or International +1 (914) 987-7127
- Conference ID number: 7592394
- Live and archived webcast available at ir.athene.com and apollo.com/stockholders.
Apollo is a leading global investment manager with assets under management of approximately $455 billion as of December 31, 2020 in credit, private equity, and real assets funds. For more information about Apollo, please visit www.Apollo.com.
Athene, through its subsidiaries, is a leading retirement services company with total assets of $202.8 billion as of December 31, 2020 and operations in the United States, Bermuda, and Canada. Athene specializes in helping its customers achieve financial security and is a solutions provider to institutions. Founded in 2009, Athene is Driven to Do More for our policyholders, business partners, shareholders, and the communities in which we work and live. For more information, please visit www.athene.com.