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China's Huatai Securities vying to acquire AssetMark

[SHANGHAI] Huatai Securities Co Ltd is seeking to acquire US asset management software maker AssetMark Inc for as much as US$800 million, according to people familiar with the matter, in the latest example of a Chinese company taking an interest in US businesses.

A deal for AssetMark could be the biggest Chinese investment in the US financial services sector since Anbang Insurance Group Co's US$1.6 billion agreement in November to acquire Fidelity & Guaranty Life.

Huatai is facing competition from private equity firms an auction for AssetMark, including a Chinese buyout firm, the people said this week. A winner in the bidding process is expected as early as this month, the people added.

The sources asked not to be identified because the sale process is confidential. AssetMark declined to comment, while Huatai did not respond to a request for comment.

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AssetMark, based in Concord, California, provides asset management software to investment managers, broker dealers and investors, which collectively manage more than US$28.5 billion on its platforms.

In 2013 private equity firms Genstar Capital LLC and Aquiline Capital Partners acquired Genworth Financial Inc's wealth management business, which later became AssetMark. That deal, which had a price tag of US$412.5 million, also included another separate investment management business named Altegris.

Genstar and Aquiline partnered again in 2015 when the two purchased Ascensus Inc, a technology provider to retirement and college savings plans, from JC Flowers & Co for an undisclosed amount.

JC Flowers was part of the consortium that attempted to buy Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc alongside Anbang last month for as much as US$14 billion.

Anbang's deal for insurance company Fidelity & Guaranty has won approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.



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