Wealth management firm HighTower Advisors' owner seeks to cash out: sources

(Reuters) – The private equity owner of HighTower Advisors is exploring ways to cash out of one of the largest registered investment advisers in the United States, including through a potential sale of the company, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Thomas H. Lee Partners is consulting with advisers about a partial or full divestment of its majority stake in HighTower, which would value the entire company at more than $2 billion, including debt, the sources said.

The deliberations are at an early stage, and the buyout firm could choose to retain its full holding in the business, which it bought in 2017 from a group of investors for an undisclosed amount, the sources added.

HighTower, which was established in 2008, generates about $100 million in 12-month earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), according to five of the sources.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter is confidential. Thomas H. Lee and HighTower declined to comment.

Since Thomas H. Lee bought its majority stake, HighTower has invested in several businesses and increased its client assets under management by around 40% to more than $70 billion at the end of 2019, according to its website.

A deal would be the latest example of a partial or full sale of a wealth management firm.

Private equity firm General Atlantic earlier this month bought a minority stake in Creative Planning for an undisclosed amount. The Overland Park, Kansas-based registered investment adviser manages $50 billion of client money.

Among the sector’s most high-profile deals in 2019 were Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) acquiring United Capital for $750 million, and Charles Schwab Corp (SCHW.N) purchasing USAA Investment Management Co for $1.8 billion.

(This story corrects to drop erroneous reference to largest registered investment adviser in first paragraph)

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