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Canadian boutique adviser INFOR expands reach with acquisition

Neil Selfe, Chief Executive of INFOR Financial Group, is pictured in Toronto in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters July 17, 2015. REUTERS/John Burridge/INFOR Financial Group/Handout via Reuters

By John Tilak

TORONTO (Reuters) - Boutique advisory firm INFOR Financial Group said on Sunday it agreed to buy the Canadian operations of U.S. underwriting services provider Incapital Holdings, boosting its presence in the Canadian investment banking market.

The value of the deal was not disclosed. The acquisition will make Toronto-based INFOR a registered investment dealer and full-service underwriter in the Canadian market, allowing it to provide a broader range of services.

The deal also deepens INFOR’s relationship with Chicago-based Incapital, an underwriter of retail bonds.

Following the deal, INFOR said it will be able to distribute debt and equity in Canada, as well as distribute debt in the United States through its tie-up with Incapital.

INFOR, which was founded in March, has muscled its way into the second-quarter Canadian merger and acquisitions (M&A) league tables, helped by its involvement in Element Financial Corp's (EFN.TO) deal to buy some of General Electric Co's (GE.N) fleet management assets.

INFOR ranked fourth among Canadian investment banks and 13th overall on M&A deals in the second quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Globally, boutique advisory firms have been capturing market share from traditional investment banks by launching with well-known dealmakers and building out practices with sector and market expertise. INFOR specializes in the financial services, technology, telecoms and real estate sectors, among others.

"This will help us to participate in public equity and debt syndicates as a full underwriter, the same way the banks do," INFOR Chief Executive Neil Selfe said in an interview. "It's huge for our competitive ability."

Selfe, who helped found INFOR after being an investment banker at RBC Capital Markets and GMP Securities, expects the Incapital deal to help his new firm take market share from some of the big banks.

INFOR provides advisory on M&A, capital raising, restructuring and treasury risk management.

It is also a shareholder in and sponsor of INFOR Acquisition Corp (IACa.TO), one of several special purpose acquisition corporations designed to make acquisitions that have launched in Canada in recent months.

(Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Andrew Hay)