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WisdomTree Explored a Sale to JPMorgan Chase

Matthew Monks

(Bloomberg) -- WisdomTree Investments Inc. explored a sale late last year and held talks with JPMorgan Chase & Co., according to people familiar with the matter.

WisdomTree’s negotiations with JPMorgan ended in December because the parties couldn’t agree on a price as the asset manager’s shares tumbled amid a rout in U.S. stocks, said the people, who asked to not be identified because the matter isn’t public. WisdomTree is no longer actively pursuing a sale, but could seek to put itself back on the block if its shares rebound, one of the people said.

Representatives for WisdomTree and JPMorgan declined to comment.

WisdomTree’s shares rose as much as 6.9 percent and traded up 3 percent to $6.15 in New York trading at 12:46 p.m. Monday, giving the company a market value of about $941 million. Its shares fell about 40 percent over the past year through Friday, as asset managers grapple with falling fees and volatile equity markets.

Those pressures have spurred asset managers to make acquisitions to cut costs, grow and diversify. WisdomTree acquired ETF Securities’ exchange-traded funds business last year.

New York-based WisdomTree is one of the largest independent ETF managers in the world, with about $59 billion of those types of assets under management at the end of September, according to its third-quarter report.

ETFs are a cheaper alternative to mutual funds that allow investors to pool their money in a fund that invests in stocks, bonds or commodities. Most of them seek to match the performance of an index.

JPMorgan, the largest U.S. bank holding company by assets, launched its first ETF product in 2014 and has been seeking to expand that business through acquisitions, people familiar with the matter said last year.

--With assistance from Michelle F. Davis.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Monks in New York at mmonks1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Elizabeth Fournier at efournier5@bloomberg.net, Michael Hytha

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