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BMO fishes across the pond as opportunities at home dry up Add to ...

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Bank of Montreal’s proposed deal to acquire Britain’s venerable F&C Asset Management for $1.3-billion would instantly give the bank a considerably larger wealth management footprint in Europe, where a fragmented business is ripe for more consolidation.

It’s a sensible idea for Canada’s big banks to continue extending their tentacles beyond their saturated home market, where the oligopoly has mined just about all it can from the aggressive marketing of in-house wealth products. Managing other people’s money has become the banks’ growth target du jour for obvious reasons: The returns are higher and the risks lower than for many other banking or insurance activities. Apart from some smaller wealth management acquisitions, BMO has been a bit of laggard in diversifying beyond North America. But it is making up for lost time by adding F&C to its growing European base.

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