RPA SageView weighing a sale: sources

One of the biggest independent retirement plan advisers, SageView Advisory Group, is reportedly considering a sale.

The Irvine, Calif.-based firm, which has more than $100 billion in retirement plan assets under management, is working with Jeffries Financial Group to explore the sale, according to several sources and a report circulating on an investment banking forum. There was no attribution to the source of the article, and attempts to identify it have been unsuccessful. The language used in the report makes it unclear whether it came from a news service or a different group.

A sale would almost certainly bring high offers, given SageView’s size, established network of advisers and RIA, according to one source who asked to not be identified but has knowledge of the proposed sale.

SageView is the second-largest independent RPA behind Captrust and would give a buyer an easy entrée into the U.S. retirement plan market and a base from which to bulk up more business through smaller subsequent acquisitions, the source said. Bids could be extremely high — as much as 20 times the company’s EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization).

SageView principals and executives did not respond to multiple calls and emails. However, one employee said that there are many potential buyers in the market and that it is unsurprising that SageView is attracting attention — although they said they were not specifically aware of a potential sale.

Sources familiar with the matter said that a sale would attract private-equity firms and large aggregators such as Hub, OneDigital and Marsh & McLennan. A Hub representative said the firm does not comment about potential acquisitions. A Marsh & McLennan spokesperson said they had no information to share.

M&A STAYS RED HOT

“The valuations right now are crazy,” said Rick Shoff, managing director in Captrust’s Advisor Group. “The pipeline for potential deals has never been busier. The M&A trend is accelerating.”

Firms that are not growing have been looking to partner, particularly as owners consider exits from the business, said Shoff, who said he had direct knowledge of SageView’s potential sale.

“Like me, and a lot of other people, we’re on the back nine — there are liquidity and succession issues,” he said. “A lot of RIA owners think this is the top … I suspect [SageView founder] Randy [Long] might feel the same way.”

Captrust is not among the prospective buyers, Shoff said.

“We think the world of SageView, but we don’t like the deal structure,” he said, adding that for SageView, “it’s a huge opportunity.”

DEALS, DEALS, DEALS

Earlier this year, Chicago-based GTCR picked up a 25% stake in Captrust Financial Advisors, representing the first private-equity investment the RIA received. In that deal, Captrust, which had more than $390 billion in assets under advisement, was given a valuation of $1.25 billion.

Another significant acquisition this year was OneDigital’s purchase of Resources Investment Advisors, which had about $45 billion in assets under management. Other recent purchases include Hub’s 2018 agreement to buy Sheridan Road and a deal last year to buy affiliates of Global Retirement Partners.

SageView has more than $100 billion AUM among 945 corporate clients, as well as $11 billion among 40 state and government entities, according to data from the company’s Form ADV. It also manages $1.3 billion on behalf of charitable organizations and $253 million for high-net-worth clients and another $214 million for individuals.

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