UniCredit, an Italian bank, originally announced in May that it had hired BoA to consider alternatives for Pioneer, including a possible sale. Conventional wisdom was that the process would commence almost immediately, but now we hear that blue books won’t be printed until PwC completes an audit of Pioneer’s financials. Specifically, sources say that UniCredit did not have broken-out financials for Pioneer’s U.S. business.
“The accounting firm needs to come in and restate [Pioneer’s] financials to reflect the true costs and profits (if any) of the European business,” one person said.
Boston-based Pioneer has $250 billion in global assets under management, including $62 billion in the United States. Bank of America is managing the sale process (well, once there is one).
Strategics, because they can pay more, are now the preferred bidders, one person said. UniCredit wants to sell all of the business and will likely retain a stake in the European operations. BNY Mellon has expressed an interest in buying all of Pioneer, including the European operations, one person saids.
However, other strategics, especially those based in the U.S., don’t want Pioneer’s European operations. MFS Investment Management and John Hancock Funds are interested but only want the U.S. operations, sources said.
Private equity is still expected to play a major role in the auction. European buyout shops, like Permira, BC Partners and Apax Partners, are anticipated to be interested in Pioneer. U.S. PE firms– like TA Associates, Bain Capital, Carlyle Group, Hellman & Friedman—are also expected to be in play.
UniCredit is considering all options for Pioneer, a person familiar with the situation said.
Officials for UniCredit, Pioneer and PwC declined comment.