When one company in a particular sector or industry is acquired, Wall Street usually asks “Who’s next?” Recent consolidation, albeit small, in the exchange traded funds industry has predictably been met with “Who’s next?” chatter.
Investors betting on a slew of high-priced, big name acquisitions within the $1.9 trillion U.S. exchange traded products may want to temper their expectations. The recent “wave,” a term to be used loosely, of U.S. ETF consolidation looks like this: Janus Capital (NYSE: JNS) forking over all of $30 million for VelocityShares, a firm best known for its lineup of volatility exchange traded notes (ETNs). At the time the deal was announced earlier this month, VelocityShares had $2.12 billion in assets under management. [Janus Acquires VelocityShares]
The next closest thing to consolidation in the U.S. ETF industry is the RUMOR that Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), the largest U.S. investment bank, is reportedly in talks to acquire exchange traded funds issuer IndexIQ.
Reuters broke the news after the close of U.S. markets on Oct. 16. Eight days later, no deal between Goldman and IndexIQ has been announced. Even if that deal does come to fruition, a large price tag should not be expected.
New York-based IndexIQ had nearly $1.2 billion in assets under management as of Oct. 15 with the bulk of those assets ($870 million) found in the IndexIQ Hedge Multi-Strategy ETF (NYSEArca: QAI). Using the Janus/VelocityShares deal as a template, it would be reasonable to expect Goldman pays $15 million to $20 million for IndexIQ.
Those deals are not going to remind anyone of Exxon buying Mobil, but it is easy to understand why talk of ETF issuer acquisitions is heating up. As Reuters reports, mutual fund issuers such as “T. Rowe Price and Capital Research & Management are among a number of fund companies that do not yet have ETFs but have sought approval from regulators to launch so-called non-transparent actively-managed ETFs that don’t require daily disclosures of holdings.”
However, the effort to launch active non-transparent ETFs suffered a major blow Wednesday when the Securities and Exchange Commission rejected applications for non-transparent actively managed exchange traded funds by Precidian ETFs Trust and Spruce ETF Trust, a unit of BlackRock (NYSE: BLK). [SEC Denies Active Non-Transparent ETF Applications]
Reuters speculates that WisdomTree (NasdaqGS: WETF) is a takeover target, though the company declined to comment on that speculation. Worth noting is that talk of WisdomTree being a takeover target are at least five years old, an eternity for a supposed target to not be taken out.