The co-owners of boutique incubator Ascalon Capital Management, St George Bank and Kaplan Funds Management, have called in an investment bank to assess options for offloading the business.

St George’s group executive of wealth management, Geoff Lloyd, confirmed to I&T News yesterday that Investec Bank was conducting a “;strategic review”; of Ascalon, on behalf of both owners. Lloyd said the options being canvassed were a sale of some of Ascalon’s underlying assets, a sale of the entire Ascalon holding company, or maintenance of the current ownership structure. Lloyd said the review was expected to take several months. The thinking behind the review of Ascalon is unclear, as is whether it was initiated by St George or Kaplan. Ascalon has mostly minority stakes in 11 underlying businesses, including Australian equity managers Alleron, First Samuel, and Above The Index (the manager for SMAs run by Direct Portfolio, another Ascalon company). It also has interests in quant managers Continuum and Sigrun, and a majority holding in retail fund marketing firm, The Private Collection. The head of a competing boutique incubator speculated that St George may have decided that big institutions were not a natural place to foster high quality, independent funds management. St George’s would-be owner, Westpac, has attempted to create a boutique environment via the separate listing of BT Investment Management, although that business remains majority owned by the bank.

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