Sale of Genstar- and Aquiline-backed Ascensus in question

A sale of Ascensus before year’s end seems less likely, but some sources remain optimistic that a deal will happen.

Ascensus, backed by Genstar Capital and Aquiline Capital Partners, has been up for sale for several months. Barclays and JP Morgan are advising on the process, Buyouts has reported.

Final bids were due in October; those offers, from private equity firms, came in at the $1.7 billion to $1.8 billion range, four sources said. That’s below the $2 billion the sellers sought.

The status of the auction is now in question. Some people said the process is on hold, while others maintain the sale was pulled. “It could still happen,” a fifth person said.

Still, others have a more positive view. Ascensus continues to have discussions with parties at a valuation above $2 billion, a sixth source said.

“The process remains active,” another person said.

Ascensus is the Dresher, Pennsylvania, provider of retirement-plan services, like outsourced record-keeping and administration, to defined-contribution plans and IRAs.

The company reportedly generates Ebitda of about $150 million. Several large buyout shops were interested in Ascensus, Buyouts reported in September.

Genstar and Aquiline acquired Ascensus for $850 million in December 2015. JC Flowers was the seller.

Ascensus has pursued an add-on strategy to grow. This year it has acquired about 17 companies, including ESOP Economics and Pension Works in October.

Executives for Ascensus, JP Morgan, Genstar, Barclays and Aquiline declined comment.

Action Item: Contact Ascensus CEO Bob Guillocheau at bob.guillocheau@ascensus.com