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Fiera to buy National Bank’s Natcan unit

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Montreal-based money manager Fiera Sceptre Inc. (FA-T) said Monday that it has struck a deal to buy the Natcan asset management arm from National Bank of Canada (NA-T) for nearly $310 million.

In return, the bank will received Class A subordinate voting shares representing 35-percent stake of Fiera Sceptre, and an option to increase that interest to 40 percent.

Upon closing of the deal, the firm's name will be changed to Fiera Capital, and the newly merged firm is expected to have about $54 billion in assets under management.

"Our goal is to become a major player in the ranks of North American asset managers," said Jean-Guy Desjardins, chief executive officer of Fiera Sceptre. He will continue as chairman, CEO and chief investment officer of newly re-named company.

There is "tremendous potential for the Canadian asset management business," said National Bank CEO Louis Vachon. "By combining Natcan's business with Fiera, and by becoming a significant long-term partner with them, we help Fiera to gain the critical mass and expertise required to compete with the best asset management business in Canada and globally."

Because certain aspects of the transaction involve arrangements between Desjardins and the bank, a special committee of independent directors was established to review and evaluate the deal. The committee determined the deal was "fair" from a financial point of view to Fiera Sceptre shareholders and recommends shareholders vote in favour of the transaction.

A special shareholders meeting has been set for March 29 to, among other things, consider a resolution authorizing the issuance of the Class A shares to be issued to the bank at the closing of the transaction. A management information circular will be mailed to shareholders of Fiera Sceptre on or about March 7.

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