DES MOINES, Iowa, June 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The US-based Principal Financial Group today took a further step towards global leadership in investment management and retirement services by announcing it will acquire the Bankers Trust Australia Group, which includes Australia's second largest investment management business BT Funds Management, for a price of US$1.38 billion (A$2.1 billion). This major acquisition, which brings the combined group's assets under management to more than US$110 billion (A$167 billion) worldwide, results from Deutsche Bank AG's purchase of Bankers Trust Corporation. It includes BT Funds Management's Australian and New Zealand businesses, BT Portfolio Services, BT Margin Lending and the Investment Banking business. While purchasing the entire Bankers Trust Australia Group, The Principal strategy does not include long-term ownership of the Investment Banking business. Advanced discussions are underway with another party to conclude the sale of the Investment Bank. Established in 1879 and a member of Fortune 500 and one of Fortune's Most Admired Companies, The Principal Financial Group is a diversified global financial services company with more than US$84 billion (A$128 billion) in assets under management, serving more than 10 million customers. Its financial strength is evidenced by its AA or above ratings, strong capitalization and history of operating profitability with positive pre-tax gains for more than 25 consecutive years. In Sydney to announce the acquisition, CEO and chairman of the Principal Financial Group, David J. Drury, said: "We're celebrating the winning combination this partnership presents to all BT Funds Management clients and their advisers. "That winning combination is BT Funds Management's strong active fund management capability and recognized brand name, combined with our proven expertise in investment management and global leadership in retirement services and technological solutions," Mr. Drury said. "Together we will be a powerful force in one of the fastest-growing pension systems in the world. "In making this strategic purchase, we recognize the tremendous talents of BT Funds Management's people and its unique business culture. We will be actively involved in the business, harnessing those qualities to ensure BT Funds Management remains a leading force in the Australian and international marketplace," he said. Ian Martin will remain Chief Executive of BT Funds Management, reporting directly to Mr. Drury. Rob Ferguson, currently Managing Director of Bankers Trust Australia Group, will assume the role of non-executive Chairman of BT Funds Management upon completion of the sale. Welcoming the outcome of the sale process, Mr. Ferguson said, "This is a great result for Bankers Trust Australia, our clients and our staff. "Today we welcome the news of acquisition by The Principal of BT Funds Management, and together we look forward with confidence to announcing new ownership for the Investment Bank." Chief Executive of BT Funds Management, Mr. Ian Martin said: "The Principal will be a strong and synergistic parent who understands our business and will be a significant new force in the Australian market. "This announcement decisively ends the business uncertainty created by the sale process," he said. "We are excited at the prospect of this new partnership and the opportunity to combine our strengths for the benefit of all our clients. "The good news for all our wholesale and retail investors is continuity of investment style from our dedicated team of fund managers plus an ongoing commitment to the best client service. "In the important area of retail distribution, this announcement secures BT Funds Management's position as Australia's only independent global fund manager growing its retail business in cooperation with financial advisers." The Principal is dominant in the small and medium sized business end of the US 401(k) (corporate super) market, serving one of every nine plan participants in this market. The Principal is the largest provider of 401(k) plans in the U.S. by number of plans. It has some 43,000 employer clients and 2.9 million fund members. Further noting The Principal's core competency in administration and processing, Mr. Martin said, "BT Portfolio Services, including BT Funds Management, will have in The Principal a strong long-term systems development partner with a commitment to invest in technology for the highest levels of client service." Barry Griswell, president of the Principal Financial Group and head of U.S. and global retirement and retail operations, commented, "This development significantly propels our efforts to become a global retirement services and investment management leader. "We will aggressively grow our non-US operations over the next five years and entering such an important market as Australia with such a solid partner as BT Funds Management marks significant progress in achieving our goals," he said. The transaction is expected to close third quarter 1999 and is conditional on regulatory approvals in Australia and the USA. JP Morgan advised Principal Financial Group on the acquisition.
SOURCE Principal Financial Group