Its deal to buy Maxus Investment Group shows Fifth Third Bancorp of Cincinnati is continuing to do whatever is necessary to become a money management presence in northern Ohio.

Maxus, a closely held Cleveland money management firm, will be managed by $4 billion-asset Fifth Third Bank of Northeast Ohio, which is also based in Cleveland. Bob King, president and chief executive officer of the Fifth Third Bancorp unit, said Maxus will help its trust department build assets under management as well as money management capabilities.

The price in the deal, announced Tuesday, was not disclosed. The acquisition will be completed in the first quarter.

Maxus manages more than $1.4 billion in assets for personal, institutional, and not-for-profit clients in the Cleveland area. It also offers private portfolio management for high-net-worth clients, and has its own family of five mutual funds, which accounts for 12% of its assets.

“We had $800 million in assets prior to the acquisition, which wasn’t commensurate with the footprint of our commercial bank side,” Mr. King said. “This acquisition will give us that.”

Fifth Third Bank of Northeast Ohio’s private banking, estate planning, retail brokerage, and money management services are part of its trust department.

The companies say they see several benefits from the combination. Fifth Third will get Maxus’ investment management expertise, the mutual funds the company manages, and the high net worth clients that financial institutions covet. According to Richard A. Barone, Maxus’ chief executive officer, 350 of its 550 clients are private clients, with average mutual fund accounts of about $100,000. “That’s quite a bit more than the norm, which is $7,000 to $8,000,” he said.

Maxus also says it finds attractive the trust and private banking services that will be available through Fifth Third. “These will make a difference to our clients,” Mr. Barone said.

Fifth Third’s trust department also has a retail brokerage and offers private banking and money management services.

The acquisition, Mr. King said, will give his bank a competitive presence in northeastern Ohio. “It will make us the third-largest bank money manager in northeastern Ohio, and the fifth largest bank overall in northeastern Ohio,” he said.

According to UBS Warburg regional bank analyst Michael A. Plodwick, the acquisition “is very consistent” with how Fifth Third has been functioning in its market. “They want to grow in money management, and their strategy has been to buy small stuff and grow it,” he said. “They’re very disciplined in their acquisition strategy.”


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