Irish funds services firm Carne to buy WTW unit

Deal sees investment platform take ‘minority stake’ in Dublin firm

Carne Group, a Dublin-based provider of technology solutions to the global funds industry, has agreed to buy an institutional investment platform owned by WTW, formerly Willis Towers Watson.

The deal will see WTW combine its Asset Management Exchange (AMX) unit, which connects investors, asset managers and service partners so they can transact and interact all in one place, with Carne in return for a "minority stake" in the wider group.

Carne founder and chief executive John Donohoe declined to comment on the financial details of the agreement, other than to say that the stake being taken by WTW is smaller than a 25 per cent holding taken in the group last year by a British private equity firm, called Vitruvian Partner.

Mr Donohoe and other Carne managers would continue to have a controlling stake in the business, he said.

“Carne’s ultimate goal is to unite the industry’s investors and distributors with their asset managers resulting in faster deployment of investment capital,” said Mr Donohoe. “Now, with AMX as part of Carne, we can offer even better solutions to our clients and the entire industry through one of the sector’s leading digitally driven global platforms.”

The deal will see AMX’s almost 100 employees, 40 of whom are based in its Cork offices, join Carne’s 400-strong workforce.

Carne has offices in eight countries globally, including three in the Republic, where its staff are involved in managing the governance, compliance and regulatory requirements for about 600 of the world’s leading asset managers and institutional investors, with a total of $1 trillion (€890 billion) of money under management.

In addition, its flagship Corr (Compliance Oversight Risk & Reporting) platform is used by asset managers to help oversee $2 trillion in assets.

Access

The AMX platform will give Carne access to more institutional investor-type clients, such as pension funds, wealth managers, insurance and life assurance companies and sovereign-wealth funds, that use the Irish company’s traditional asset manager clients to invest money.

Carne said AMX’s “ecosystem and investor relationships” would complement its service offering which includes a third-party management company, due diligence, distribution and technology platforms.

Carne was valued at about €400 million 12 months ago by the deal that saw Vitruvian Partners take a 25 per cent stake in the business for €100 million.

Mr Donohoe, a funds industry veteran who previously worked in Deutsche Bank, State Street and KPMG, set up Carne in 2004. He said the company had an interest in further partnership deals as it continued to drive “industry transformation for benefit of industry and clients”.

Carne had more than doubled its revenues over the past two years, he said, declining to give details. A group holding company, Dublin-based Fieldport Holdings, reported consolidated turnover of €30.3 million for the year to March 2020, according to its most recent set of accounts filed with the Companies Registration Office.

However, a spokeswoman for Carne said the holding company was only one of a number of different group entities internationally and did not give the full picture.