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Mercer lands $350M Arbor Asset acquisition

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Private equity-backed aggregator Mercer Advisors has racked up its second acquisition of the year with Arbor Asset Management, which manages $350 million for clients in the Midwest.

In January it acquired San Mateo, California-based Dragon Financial with $110 million in assets under management. Mercer also owns one of the country's largest RIAs, Mercer Global Advisors, which manages $11 million for clients out of its Santa Barbara, California headquarters, according to SEC filings.

Neil Paolella, Arbor Asset’s president, credited a strong cultural fit and career path opportunities for team members with the decision to go with Mercer, according to a statement. In addition, he "wanted to offload back office responsibilities and needed to know they would be managed at the highest level."

Paolella began his career as a CPA before becoming CFO of an air freight company. In 1996, he founded his Ann Arbor, Michigan-based RIA and, prior to the sale, remained its sole owner, according to the firm's website. He and four team members will be joining Mercer.

The Arbor acquisition brings the Denver-based aggregator's total locations to 39 nationwide, and increases its AUM to approximately $15 billion, the firm says.

The Arbor office will be Mercer's third in Michigan, in addition to locations in Detroit and Traverse City. The firm counts four additional offices in the Midwest, in Chicago; Onalaska, Wisconsin; Columbus, Ohio; and Omaha, Nebraska. Mercer's AUM had increased more than 90% as of last year. Genstar Capital bought it from Mercer's previous PE owner, Lovell Minnick Partners, in 2015.

Dave Barton, Mercer's former CEO and current head of M&A, oversaw the deal.

The firm acquired ten firms in 2018 and eight the previous year.

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