| NEW YORK, April 23
NEW YORK, April 23 Ameriprise Financial Inc
, the acquisitive Minneapolis-based mutual fund and
wealth-management company, has no plans to pursue big deals in
the immediate future, the company said Tuesday.
"At this point, we don't see any large properties in the
marketplace that meet our acquisition criteria," Chief Executive
James Cracchiolo said on a conference call with analysts to
discuss the company's 11 percent gain in first-quarter operating
earnings per share that it reported on Monday evening.
Ameriprise, which bought Bank of America's Columbia
Management mutual fund unit in early 2010 for about $1 billion,
was poised to lead an 800 million pound ($1.22 billion) bid for
Lloyds Banking Group's asset management unit, The
Sunday Times reported on April 21.
"We continue to get smarter" about acquisitions, Cracchiolo
said. "We're not naive anymore."
Some analysts on the call expressed concern as to why
investors continue to withdraw money from Columbia and
Threadneedle funds long after Ameriprise's acquisitions.
Total outflows of $5.7 billion at the company's funds were
higher than expected, Ameriprise officials acknowledged, in
large part reflecting withdrawals at the former parents of
Columbia and Threadneedle where the funds are not being sold as
aggressively as when they were in-house products.
Threadneedle, formerly owned by Zurich Financial Services,
was bought by a predecessor of Ameriprise more than ten years
Ameriprise, which had $2.3 billion of cash as of March 30,
on Monday said it is deploying some of its excess cash to raise
its quarterly dividend by 7 cents to 52 cents a share, and will
continue to return a high percentage of its profits to investors
through stock buybacks or dividends.
Ameriprise ended the first quarter with $466 billion of
assets under management and ranks as the eighth biggest manager
of long-term U.S. mutual funds. Cracchiolo said he expects more
consolidation in the asset management industry but will
participate only if deals add value.
Ameriprise's other primary business is wealth management,
where it sells securities and financial planning to
middle-income investors. It ended the first quarter with 9,777
brokers, up 33 from a year earlier. About 2,000 are direct
employees and about 7,500 are independent advisers who contract
with Ameriprise for business support and products.
Cracchiolo said hiring throughout the retail brokerage
industry slowed late last year and in the first quarter because
fiscal cliff and tax-policy issues focused brokers more
intensely than usual on client concerns than on considering
jumping to other firms. He also said that Ameriprise has been
focusing on hiring more productive brokers than usual, an area
that is more competitive.
Shares of Ameriprise were up 2.3 percent to $74.05 in late
morning trading. They have gained 15.6 percent this year.