Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s (ASX: CBA) decision to offload some of its wealth management and advisory businesses into CFS Group has caught the attention of prominent analysts.
As we reported here, Why Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) Is Selling CFSGAM, the big banks have been under pressure to divest their mortgage broking and advisory businesses because of the inherent conflicts of interests it causes for financial advisers — and their clients.
The Windows Look Good
Despite the move to sell some of its problem-area assets, however, CBA said it will retain its, “salaried financial advice business”, Commonwealth Financial Planning. During the recent Royal Commission into the banking and financial services sector it was revealed the CBA paid $118 million to clients where fees had been charged for no service.
The new entity, called CFS Group, will include Colonial First State (CFS), CFS Global Asset Management (CFSGAM), Count Financial, Financial Wisdom and Aussie Home Loans. Basically, anything that operates outside of the CBA masthead.
Analysts Weigh In On Value
Morgan Stanley analysts say CFS Group could be worth as much as $8 billion, or $4.50 per share. Meanwhile, Citi analysts reckon it could fetch up to $7 billion, implying a profit multiple of 10 to 14 times.
However, as quoted by AFR, both investment firms expressed doubts about the effectiveness of putting so many different businesses together in one ASX-listed company. “In our view, there is little strategic alignment between mortgage brokering, global asset management and an Australian-focused platform and advice business,” Morgan Stanley was reported as telling its clients.
Nonetheless, CBA CEO Matt Comyn said the separate CFS Group will offer investment choice and could unlock value for CBA shareholders, who stand to receive shares in the entity.
“The wealth management and mortgage broking businesses are each high-quality franchises,” Comyn said earlier this week.
“With innovation and disruption in wealth management increasingly favouring specialist companies, they will benefit from independence and the capacity to focus on new growth options without the constraints of being part of a large banking group.”
CBA’s decision to divest assets follows that of ANZ Banking Group (ASX: ANZ), National Australia Bank Ltd. (ASX: NAB) and even Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES).
Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, risks — or the market’s valuations?
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