“My goal is to build something for the long term,” says Walter Global CEO Sylvain Brosseau.
An emerging Montreal-based investor is ready to stake hundreds of millions of dollars on future growth in the wealth management business.
Walter Global Asset Management is working to raise as much as $400 million from outside investors as it ramps up a private equity fund that will invest in money managers worldwide, chief executive officer Sylvain Brosseau said. With about $100 million of capital available and two purchases already concluded, Walter Global is aiming to close fresh deals this year while hiring additional staff to oversee investments.
“Our goal is to build a platform through which we buy stakes in various asset management companies,” Brosseau told the Montreal Gazette in an interview. “Our sole focus is the asset management industry. We are going to invest in maybe 15, 20, 25 companies over time.”
Walter Global is a two-year-old unit of Walter Financial, an investment firm owned by Montreal’s Somers family. The Somers owe much of their wealth to Walter Surface Technologies, a maker of tooling and abrasives that German-born entrepreneur Walter J. Somers founded in 1952. Toronto-based private equity firm Onex Corp. bought the manufacturer in 2018 for an undisclosed sum.
As the family sold control of Walter Surface Technologies, it turned its energy — and its capital — to private investments. It also embraced the idea of recruiting outside investors such as pension funds, Brosseau said.
Asset management is a field that Brosseau knows inside out, having worked in the industry for three decades. He spent more than half of his career as a senior executive of Fiera Capital Corp., culminating with a stint as chief operating officer until his departure in 2017.
In May, Walter Global acquired a minority stake in Montreal’s LionGuard Capital Management, which specializes in fundamental research on small and medium-size companies. Last month, it bought a piece of London-based firm Quadra Capital Partners, which agreed to open an office in Montreal in connection with the deal. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
Quadra CEO Guillaume Touze, a Frenchman who recently moved to Montreal, said his goal is to build a team of about four people in the city. Teaming up with Walter Global “is going to help us raise funds and find money managers,” Touze said in the joint interview with Brosseau.
With Quadra and LionGuard in the fold, Brosseau said he’s now working to close an investment in Toronto, which he wouldn’t identify, this month. A fourth transaction, with a London-based firm, will likely close in February, he said.
Walter Global expects to hire a handful of investment professionals in the next few months to pave the way for asset growth, Brosseau added. Parent Walter Financial, which oversees the family’s stock-market investments, has about 30 employees.
“We have several wealth management transactions in the pipeline, some of which are very advanced,” Brosseau said. “I’m very confident in saying we will get to $500 million in assets within two years.”
Unlike traditional private equity funds, Brosseau said Walter Global isn’t looking to cash in on its investments within three to five years.
Instead, he said, “there is no exit strategy here, no horizon for disinvesting. My goal is to build something for the long term that will survive me.”