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Jean-Guy Desjardins as drawn by Anthony Jenkins for The Lunch. Mr. Desjardins’ Fiera Capital Corp. is charging ahead on its U.S. expansion with two acquisitions in Los Angeles and New York.Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail

One of Canada's largest independent asset managers, Fiera Capital Corp., is charging ahead on its U.S. expansion with two acquisitions in Los Angeles and New York.

Quebec-based Fiera, which is run by money management veteran Jean-Guy Desjardins, said Tuesday afternoon that it would acquire a U.S. wealth management business and a global asset manager. Together, both deals are worth $156.25-million (U.S.) and are expected to close at the end of October.

The first company, L.A.-based Bel Air Investment Advisors and Bel Air Securities, operate together as a private wealth management company with a focus on ultra-high-net-worth clients. Fiera also picks up New York-based investment manager Wilkinson O'Grady & Co. Inc., which actively manages international portfolios and funds for wealthy individuals and groups.

Fiera is known for being highly acquisitive with ambitious plans to continue to grow both organically and through deals. Last year it notably bought both Natcan Investment Management from National Bank of Canada, as well as UBS Global Asset Management (Canada) Inc.'s Canadian fixed income, equity and domestic balanced fund business.

This time last year, Mr. Desjardins told Streetwise's Boyd Erman that he wanted to expand Fiera into the U.S., triple the size of the company and create "an investment management organization with the scope to compete on a North American scale" in the next decade. To him, that meant growing the firm to $150-billion in assets – "serious player" size.

Today, the company is almost halfway toward its goal. Tuesday's deals add $8.5-billion in assets under management to Fiera's private wealth business, increasing the size of the company to $74-billion in AUM.

Mr. Desjardins reiterated his commitment to add the other half of the assets in a press release for the deals: "We see tremendous growth potential in the U.S. private wealth market and these transactions fit perfectly with our plan to create value by becoming a leading North American investment management firm within the next five years," he said.

Fiera's stock is up 52 per cent year to date.

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