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Genstar’s Mercer Advisors gets private equity attention in first round bidding

Genstar Capital’s sale of Mercer Advisors is progressing with bids due later this month, two sources said.

Parties offering less than $600 million were “kicked out of the process,” one of the two sources said. The auction has attracted private equity firms including General Atlantic, ABRY Partners and GTCR, the people said.

Bids could spill over into September, the person said.

Founded in 1985, Mercer is a wealth-management firm that provides fee-only investment management, financial planning, family office services, retirement benefits and distribution planning. Mercer Advisors is the parent of Mercer Global Advisors, a registered investment advisor with more than $15 billion in client assets. It employs more than 350 people.

Genstar acquired Mercer in May 2015. Lovell Minnick Partners, the seller at that time, retained a stake.

Genstar put Mercer on the block earlier this summer, Buyouts reported in July. Goldman Sachs is advising on the process, people said. Mercer produces pro-forma, run-rate Ebitda of $50 million and is seeking bids of 15x to 16x, sources said.

News of the sale comes weeks since the last big wealth management sale. In July, Lightyear Capital sold Wealth Enhancement Group to TA Associates. Wealth Enhancement produced pro-forma, run-rate Ebitda of $35 million and sold for 15x, Buyouts said. Lightyear was not allowed into the Mercer auction because the firm owns a competitor, a different person said.

Reverence Capital agreed to buy 75 percent of Advisor Group in May in a deal valued at more than $2 billion.

Executives for Genstar, GA, GTCR and Abry declined comment. Goldman, Lightyear, Lovell and Mercer could not immediately be reached for comment.

Action Item: For more information, contact Dave Welling, Mercer’s CEO, by emailing him here.