(pictured: Andy Sowerby)
Takeovers, especially in financial services, usually fail to add value from the perspective of both the clients and shareholders of the acquiring company. Or the clients of the acquired company, for that matter. Usually it’s just the shareholders of the acquired company who do well.
The important thing for the acquiring company’s shareholders and the clients of both companies is what happens after the takeover. So, with that as a backdrop, last week’s news from Legg Mason Australia provides an interesting case study.
Legg Mason announced that Andy Sowerby, the former head of global sales and marketing of its recently acquired affiliate Martin Currie Investments, would become the new chief executive of the parent company’s Australian-based business. He is now in charge of about $35 billion in Australian-sourced assets. This follows the retirement of Legg’s former chief executive, Annalisa Clark, who left last month.
Sowerby, who has moved with his family from Edinburgh to Melbourne, is well known to Australian investors, having visited here regularly for several years with various Martin Currie fund managers, at the behest of their regional head, Kimon Kouryialas.
Putting aside whatever has happened elsewhere in the world, the Legg takeover of Martin Currie in Australia, at least, seems to be a rare example of meritocracy winning out over top-level office politics.
As previously announced, Martin Currie has already taken over running the Legg Mason Australian equities team’s business and seems to have fitted in neatly within the wider Legg world by concentrating on institutional and manufacturing endeavours.
Legg’s Australia executives, led by Beau Titchkosky, seem comfortably in control of the retail and mezzanine sales and client service. They also oversee sales and marketing of other Legg affiliates in the region, such as Western Asset Management, the big bond manager.
Sowerby has been with Martin Currie for 11 years. He said in a statement last week: “Having spent the past decade building a global business I have always been impressed with the level of innovation in the Australian marketplace alongside the high quality of the investment professionals I have had the pleasure to meet. I am excited about my new role as I believe Legg Mason has an increasingly important role to play for investors, in that we are one of the few multi-affiliate models that has the depth and capability to build and deliver a range of solutions tailored to the Australian investor. I look forward to working with my team and our investment affiliates to showcase these strengths in the years ahead.”