National Australia Bank has inked a deal to sell a controlling, 55 per cent stake in its asset consulting business, JANA, to 25 members of the senior management team.

The deal was announced on Wednesday, July 19, 2017, with the proposed transaction due to be finalised in September. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

JANA chief executive Jim Lamborn told Investment Magazine that he spearheaded the management buyout, following talks with NAB Asset Management executive general manager Garry Mulcahy about how to best position JANA for the future.

“This is not a story about NAB disposing of underperforming assets,” Lamborn said. “JANA is a very strong-performing business. But as CEO, I am concerned with looking ahead to the future and the best way to position JANA to attract and retain the best talent to grow.”

He said the new ownership model would allow JANA to operate “more like a professional services firm” to attract and retain the best talent.

Of JANA’s 85 employees, 25 senior staffers and executives will become equity holders in the management buyout.

“It was a very conscious decision to spread the equity, rather than have it concentrated,” Lamborn said. “The new management ownership structure model will give us greater flexibility to respond to the opportunities and challenges in the marketplace and, importantly, will establish greater economic alignment between our clients and employees.”

JANA is one of the big four asset consulting businesses in Australia, with funds under advice of more than $350 billion. The firm provides research and advice to the investment teams and boards of some of the country’s leading industry super funds, as well as to NAB’s own superannuation and wealth-management businesses.

External clients that have close and longstanding working relationships with JANA include: REST Industry Super, which is chaired by JANA chair Ken Marshman; Hostplus and AustSafe Super.

Mulcahy said NAB Asset Management, which includes the MLC brand, would remain as JANA’s largest client.

“NAB Asset Management looks forward to partnering with JANA to leverage our complementary capabilities in providing investment advice and portfolio management solutions to our diverse clients.”

NAB has owned JANA for 17 years, having purchased the business – originally founded 30 years ago as John Anthony Nolan & Associates – in 2000.

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