While Power Corp. has been known to swoop in as a white knight in some corporate auctions, its $3.9 billion acquisition of Putnam Investments has taken many in Canada by surprise, given the weak financial condition of the firm, The Globe and Mail reports.

The reputation of Putnam and its parent company, Marsh & McLennan, have been sullied, having paid more than $1 billion due to the mutual fund trading, bid-rigging and price fixing allegations. Putnam’s funds are also performing quite poorly; 18 of the 20 largest fund companies’ funds have outperformed Putnam’s funds for the past three years, according to Morningstar.

And over the past four years, assets have steadily fled out the door, declining from $251 billion at the end of 2002 to $182 billion at the end of September. While October and November were the first two months in years that Putnam had positive flows, bringing the total to $191 billion, many aren’t sure that will continue.

Further, while Power has been able to leverage its back-office systems for previous acquisitions to bring down costs, that isn’t likely to happen with the Putnam buy, since the U.S. and Canadian mutual fund industries operate on different legal and tax platforms.

Subscribe Now

Access to premium content including in-depth coverage of mutual funds, hedge funds, 401(K)s, 529 plans, and more.

3-Week Free Trial

Insight and analysis into the management, marketing, operations and technology of the asset management industry.