Huatai Securities to Pay $780 Million for AssetMark in Expansion

  • Brokerage follows in footsteps of larger rivals Citic, Haitong
  • Transaction still needs U.S., China regulatory approvals

Huatai Securities Co. will pay $780 million for U.S. consultancy firm AssetMark Financial Holdings Inc., the largest financial-services acquisition by a listed Chinese brokerage in almost three years.

Huatai International Finance Ltd., a unit of China’s seventh-largest brokerage by market value, agreed on Monday to acquire AssetMark from current owners including Aquiline Capital Partners and Genstar Capital, the parent said in a Hong Kong exchange filing. The deal, which still requires American and Chinese regulatory approval, would provide Huatai with investment-advisory services in the U.S., and investment and portfolio-management capabilities, it said.

The transaction is the largest overseas financial-services purchase by a Chinese brokerage since Citic Securities Co. bought Credit Agricole SA’s CLSA unit for more than $800 million in 2013, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.

China’s President Xi Jinping is urging domestic companies to go abroad as part of his push to develop firms that can compete with global peers. The country wants to “build modern investment banks” that are influential globally, according to a document issued by the China Securities Regulatory Commission in May 2014.

Other major overseas acquisitions by Chinese brokerages in recent years include Haitong Securities Co.’s $466.7 million purchase of Novo Banco SA’s investment-banking unit. Everbright Securities Co. acquired a controlling stake in Sun Hung Kai & Co.’s securities and wealth-management businesses last year for more than $500 million.

— With assistance by Aipeng Soo

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