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In play today — Houlihan Lokey eyes Europe, Kestra Financial reportedly for sale

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University Essentials | COVID-19 Economic Outlook in Banking: Rates and Long-Term Expectations: Q&A with the Experts

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In play today — Houlihan Lokey eyes Europe, Kestra Financial reportedly for sale

S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a periodic summary of potential deal activity in the financial sector, including rumored transactions. This summary is based on information obtained on a best-efforts basis and may not be inclusive of all potential deal activity.

Banking

* Short Hills, N.J.-based Investors Bancorp Inc., which has been the subject of M&A rumors, has taken steps to reposition its balance sheet and control costs. The bank also elected to close four branches in its New York/New Jersey footprint in order to control expenses and improve efficiency.

* WSFS Financial Corp. is looking to sell five locations as part of its branch consolidation plan in its deal with Beneficial Bancorp Inc.

Financial services

* Mitek Systems Inc. said that several parties including ASG Technologies Group Inc. are looking to take over the company. ASG Technologies had earlier reported that Mitek's board "refuses to engage" with it despite the Elliott Management Corp.-backed company's increase in its cash offer of $11.50 per share from $10.00 per share.

* Stone Point Capital LLC has hired Goldman Sachs for advice regarding the potential sale of the company's independent broker/dealer Kestra Financial Inc., Investment News reported, citing three unnamed industry sources.

* Los Angeles-based Houlihan Lokey Inc. remains open to more M&A opportunities in Europe in an attempt to break into the region's top 10 lenders for number of M&A deals advised over the next 12 months. The acquisitions will also enable the company to diversify its business away from its U.S. operations, two bank executives told Financial News.

* Tavistock Group unit Braslyn Ltd. made a nonbinding proposal to acquire all the outstanding publicly traded shares of Callidus Capital Corp. not already owned by itself and Catalyst Capital Group for C$2.00 apiece. Callidus Capital's special committee responded to the proposal, saying that there is no assurance that it will enter into an agreement with Braslyn or that Braslyn will complete any transaction if an agreement is entered into.

* Lazard Ltd. is not putting its asset management or financial advisory business on the block as the two businesses create a more stable entity by being part of the same corporate structure, Chairman and CEO Kenneth Jacobs said at an investor conference.

Insurance

* Stackhouse Poland Ltd. engaged Evercore Inc. to explore a potential sale with interested suitors including Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., Aon PLC, Acrisure LLC and PIB, The Insurance Insider reported citing unnamed sources. PIB reportedly dropped out of the deal talks, while several private equity houses including Warburg Pincus, KKR and GTCR are also said to be eyeing the U.K.-based insurance broker.

* Hamilton Insurance Group and Cinven Capital Management (V) General Partner Ltd are among rival companies vying to acquire Liberty Mutual Holding Co. Inc.'s Lloyd's platform Pembroke Managing Agency Ltd., Insurance Insider reported. Evercore is reportedly acting as Liberty Mutual's adviser.

* FGL Holdings appointed Jonathan Bayer head of corporate development and strategy to direct the company's mergers and acquisitions as well as corporate strategy. The company also expects to generate about $15 million of annualized expense savings through a cost reduction program. Part of that money will be reinvested in strategic growth initiatives in 2019, such as new capabilities and resources to enter the independent broker/dealer and bank channels.

To see the previous edition of "In Play Today," click here.

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