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Savant Capital Management expands footprint through acquisition

Savant Capital Management, a nationally-recognised, fee-only wealth management firm headquartered in Rockford, Illinois, and one of the nation’s largest independent registered investment advisory (RIA) firms, today announced it has acquired Chicago-based D3 Financial Counsellors, a $290 million RIA firm.

Founded in 1997 by Donald Duncan, D3 Financial Counsellors is an independent, fee-only fiduciary financial planning firm based in downtown Chicago, with additional locations in Downers Grove, Illinois, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. D3 Financial Counsellors offers financial planning, portfolio management, and wealth management services to individuals and families, corporate executives, medical professionals, and business owners. This acquisition further strengthens Savant’s Chicago footprint by increasing its presence to six offices located in downtown Chicago, Downers Grove, Hoffman Estates, Naperville, St. Charles and Wilmette.

“As we continue to expand and identify future growth opportunities in Chicago and beyond, we look for RIA firms that are committed to the fiduciary standard – always acting in clients’ best interest,” said Brent Brodeski, Savant CEO. “D3 Financial Counsellors is an RIA firm that embodies fiduciary excellence and we are proud to welcome the entire team and their clients to the Savant family.”

Duncan, founder of D3 Financial Counsellors, added, “Our fiduciary standards, business philosophies, and team-orientated approach are well-aligned with Savant’s, making for an excellent match for the two firms and our clients. The partnership allows us to offer more comprehensive financial planning services to our clients, while continuing to do what we do best – helping to build ideal financial futures for our clients, team, and the communities we serve.”

The Savant and D3 Financial Counsellors acquisition became official at the end of September. The D3 Financial Counsellors team will continue to serve clients at its current locations in downtown Chicago, Downers Grove, Illinois, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Savant remains committed to growth by supporting future M&A opportunities, both in Chicago and nationwide. For more information, please visit: https://www.savantcapital.com/

About Savant Capital Management

Savant Capital Management is a leading independent, nationally-recognised, fee-only firm serving clients for 30 years with nearly $6.3 billion in assets under management. As a trusted advisor, Savant Capital Management offers investment management, financial planning, retirement plan and family office services to financially established individuals and institutions. Savant also offers corporate accounting, tax preparation, payroll and consulting through its affiliate, Savant Tax & Consulting.

Savant is regularly recognised among the top wealth managers in the United States. Savant was the recipient of the 2015 Best-in-Business IMPACT Award™, part of Schwab’s IMPACT Awards® program to recognise excellence in the business of independent financial advice. Savant has consistently received other industry recognitions including recently being featured on the Forbes’ top 200 financial advisors list, the Barron’s top 40 independent advisory firms list, being named the #9 rated RIA firm by Financial Planning magazine, and included in additional top advisors lists by Financial Advisor magazine and InvestmentNews.

Savant Capital Management is a Registered Investment Advisor. Savant’s marketing material should not be construed by any existing or prospective client as a guarantee that they will experience a certain level of results if they engage Savant’s services and may include lists or rankings published by magazines and other sources which are generally based exclusively on information prepared and submitted by the recognised advisor.

Savant Capital Management and its employees are independent of and are not employees or agents of Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (“Schwab”). Schwab does not prepare, verify or endorse information distributed by Savant Capital Management. The Best-in-Business IMPACT Award™ is not an endorsement, testimonial endorsement, recommendation or referral to Savant Capital Management with respect to its investment advisory and other services.

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ZoomInfo completes acquisition of technographics provider Datanyze

ZoomInfo, the leading growth acceleration platform for sales and marketing teams, has announced the acquisition of Datanyze, the world-wide leader in technographic data. Financial terms of the acquisition were undisclosed.

Datanyze, headquartered in San Mateo, California, uses machine learning and proprietary methodologies to capture the technologies that are being used or implemented by more than 35 million companies globally. By infusing this information into its growth acceleration platform, ZoomInfo will be able to supplement its unrivalled company and contact information with real-time alerts that enable sales and marketing professionals to sell based on customer technology decisions.

“Business data is rapidly changing and your data platforms must be built to adapt. ZoomInfo has the largest, most complete data set of companies and contacts and a goal to enable our customers to automate, process, curate, and present the data on-demand and in real-time. Delivering industry-leading technographics, the Datanyze technology will be a significant addition to help us deliver the right data, at the right time, to the right person,” Derek Schoettle, CEO, ZoomInfo, said.

Datanyze customers will continue to receive support for the Datanyze product offering. Ilya Semin, CEO, Datanyze, said, “I am thrilled to be joining ZoomInfo at this time of tremendous growth in the organization. Bringing together our two organizations is a perfect union, combining Datanyze’s real-time technographic data with ZoomInfo’s unparalleled – and the industry’s most current – company and contact data.”

With today’s incorporation of Datanyze and the recent addition of Y Labs, ZoomInfo has now increased to six major locations including an expanded headquarter location in Waltham (MA) and satellite offices in San Mateo (CA), Grand Rapid (MI), St Petersburg (Russia), Kazan (Russia), and Ra’anana (Israel).

ZoomInfo was recently named to the Inc. 5000 for the sixth time. The company has more than doubled its headcount in the last year and continues to expand in all areas as they increase their market share.

About ZoomInfo

Accelerate your growth with Zoom Information Inc. (ZoomInfo), an Inc. 5000 company. ZoomInfo’s Growth Acceleration Platform combines the world’s most comprehensive and searchable B2B contact database with integrated tools to help companies optimize sales and marketing effectiveness, jump-start growth, and maximize profitability. The continuously updated B2B data platform provides businesses access to direct-dial phone numbers, email addresses, and professional background information. For more information, please visit: www.zoominfo.com

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Allianz Group acquires Nigerian insurer

International insurer Allianz Group has expanded its presence in Nigeria after completing a merger with Nigerian insurer Ensure Insurance, which will now trade as Ensure – a company of Allianz.

The deal, announced last year, was completed on 18 July, with the Munich-headquartered insurer acquiring 99.03% of the shares in Lagos-headquartered Ensure from London-based insurance investor Greenoaks Global Holdings.

Ensure provides retail, reinsurance and corporate insurance and generates EUR 18.2 billion in premiums last year.

Regional chief executive of Allianz Africa Coenraad Vrolijk said in a statement: “We are pleased to enter this fast-growing market through the acquisition of a solid financial player with strong local expertise. This new step of development will allow us to leverage the strength of the Allianz Group and the expertise of the Nigerian team to provide high quality products and services to Nigerian customers in both personal and commercial lines.”

Allianz said it sees Nigeria “as a high-potential market in Africa with a strong regulatory environment and promising demographics”. The insurer has operations in 17 African countries and reports having clients in 39.

It came just a couple of months after Allianz acquired an 8% stake in African Reinsurance Corporation (Africa Re), headquartered in Lagos, the continent’s first and largest reinsurer. The deal was worth USD 81 million.

At the time, the Allianz board member responsible for global insurance and reinsurance in the Middle East and Africa, Niran Peiris, stated that the company had “identified Africa as one of the future growth markets”.

A study published late last year by international law firm Baker McKenzie predicted a rise in mergers and acquisitions in Nigeria and South Africa during 2018.

As the continent’s biggest economy, it is an obvious focus of interest for international investors, especially as the country seeks to diversify its economy in order to protect itself from future variations in the oil price. The government has committed to improving the ease of doing business, with economic growth happening across the West African region.

However, Nigeria has yet to commit to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which was agreed by members of the African Union in March. With South Africa having now committed, there is plenty of scrutiny as to whether Nigeria will follow suit. It would be a blow to both Nigeria and to the credibility of AfCFTA President Muhammadu Buhari is believed to be in favour, but with an election due next year, is cautious about alienating the more protectionist forces in the Nigerian unions by committing to free trade until afterwards, so a commitment from the government may not come until 2019.

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Law At Work acquires Aberdeen law firm

Aberdeen-based HR and employment law firm, Empire, has been acquired by Law At Work (LAW), in a deal that will combine Empire’s position in the North-East together with LAW’s strong Central Belt presence.

This transaction, which follows LAW’s acquisition of Square Circle HR in 2016, will see the new firm boast close to 1,000 clients UK-wide, with a projected combined turnover of £5.5m.

Empire and LAW bring fixed fee services to businesses facing legal and regulatory challenges for more than a decade. Clients of the newly combined firm will benefit from added knowledge and experience in existing sectors coupled with expertise in new areas. The new firm will have 70 staff across offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness providing nationwide coverage.

The new firm has plans to grow the business in both the North East and Central Belt regions. Under the deal, Empire founder and chief executive officer Steve Cook, and current managing director PJ Chalmers, remain with the business, joining the LAW board as directors and shareholders in LAW.

New group MD, Steve Cook from Empire, said: “We are two businesses which have known each other well for many years. We share the same aims and objectives: allowing clients to get on with growing their business, while we take their legal and compliance worries away. We are both already best in class but, through a combined offering, are now better placed than ever to set the standard others can only aspire to.”

Magnus Swanson from LAW, Chairman of the new group, added: “It is a great opportunity for us to provide the best support for UK businesses to meet the rising challenges of legal compliance while having the certainty and transparency of fixed fees. From GDPR to tribunals and health & safety compliance, pressure on busy employers has never been greater.

“The combination of the two businesses will enable both LAW and Empire clients to access new enhanced services. Businesses want advisors they can trust and this deal brings together two trusted advisers in their distinct markets to form the strongest consultancy in our field in Scotland.”

The debt funding for this deal was provided by HSBC. The advisors on the deal have been David Beveridge of Macdonald Henderson and Neil Grimmond of Craig Corporate on behalf of LAW and David Rennie of Stronachs and Tom Faichnie of Hall Morrice on behalf of Empire.

Ross Keenan, relationship director at HSBC in Scotland, said: “HSBC was delighted to provide funding to support Law At Work’s acquisition of Empire. We’re excited to play a role in the next stage of LAW’s continued development across Scotland.”

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Law firm Gordon Dadds has eye on London acquisitions

There is little complication with this stock. Gordon Dadds takes law, accountancy and wealth management firms and merges them.

The advantage is that Dadds looks after all the functions the acquired firms may consider non-core — such as marketing, IT, HR, insurance claims and arranging office space.

The other upside — particularly for law firms — is they can break away from the partnership model and function more like a “normal” corporate company.

Adrian Biles, chief executive officer and a lawyer himself, explains: “Partnerships require heavy levels of debt to operate and are notoriously bad at investing in things like technology as this takes away from the pay pot. Lawyers are also not trained to manage and by implementing this model they can concentrate on revenue and profit share, while we do the funding.”

Dadds listed on AIM last August through a £18.8 million reverse take-over by Work Group. Work was a recruitment firm which sold its business to Capita in late 2015 and remained a shell. The deal made Dadds the second listed law firm after Gateley.

It has acquired four law firms since the float, the latest last week when it paid £1.9 million for Cardiff-based Thomas Simon. The UK legal market is big business, clocking up £30 billion in fees last year alone. There are 10,000 registered law firms, with the top 1000 accounting for £6.5 billion in fees.

Dadds has £9.9 million cash on the balance sheet and plenty of firepower left, as acquisitions are paid for in instalments.

For instance, Dadds bought the whole share capital of Thomas Simon for £187,500 on and will pay the rest in 20 quarterly instalments.

Dadds has mostly been acquiring firms from the middle market but has its eyes on landing a major name. “We’d certainly look to snap up a renowned central London law firm. We talk to a lot of firms and complete on 20% of the people we meet.”

The major threat for the company is that there is plenty of competition in the legal space from newcomers, and it is difficult to predict what the future of the industry will look like.

It has been underinvesting for years, and firms such as Keystone Law, which listed in November, have stepped in to fill the gaps.

Keystone has developed an IT platform through which its lawyers can work from remote locations, providing offices when meetings are required.

The firm avoids the costs of maintaining office space, and the lawyers avoid the costs of commuting. It is forecasting market-beating profits.