Is iShares Really On The Block?

Last Updated: 21 November 2023

The buzz makes it clear that the talk of an iShares buyout is not just a rumor.

Over on the U.S. site, Matt Hougan recently joined the iShares speculation. Of course, I’m above that sort of thing, though I finally did get around to making a few phone calls to hear what all the buzz was about. And I’ll tell you what, it’s definitely a hot topic in the ETF business now.

I’m not sure I would go with Hougan’s recommendation, given his recent track record of losing ETF investors heaps of money.

To me, the sexiest and most sensible of the deals that Matt lays out would be a real blue-chip branding exercise, ideally with a bank that won’t go insolvent in the coming months. In terms of names, J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs both have a nice ring to them. BOTH are not out of the woods, though, in terms of the financial crisis. And neither they, nor State Street, nor Schwab, nor Fidelity would be able to pull off that deal at any sort of reasonable price without some financing help.

Thinking of it being State Street or Northern Trust is just … weird, and seems extremely unlikely on its face. I guess stranger things have happened. But the tangle of products, coupled with a State Street stock price that has not exactly been a rock either, together with Northern Trust just bailing out of the NETS, make those seem like a wild reach to me.

And something tells me that Barclays is not going to be shuffling out arguably its current crown jewel at fire-sale prices. So my money says no deal happens and that the bank gets its begging bowl out at the door of the UK taxpayer, like all the rest.

The deal that seems most likely to me would be effectively a spin-off-type deal with private equity involved. That’s one maybe I could see. You just have to look around and think about who’s got money. XinShares anyone? There must be some way to put some Chinese sheen into the ETF world. Certainly that’s interesting, but somewhat hard to imagine politically, as might be Sheik Shares.

OK, so after saying I wouldn’t speculate, I’ve done it—opening it up for Paul, because I KNOW he’s dying to speculate himself on the deal that could radically alter not just the ETF business, but the investing business.

Here are a couple of other key links on the deal (and if you Google it, you’ll find plenty more speculation):

  • Luke Handt

    Luke Handt is a seasoned cryptocurrency investor and advisor with over 7 years of experience in the blockchain and digital asset space. His passion for crypto began while studying computer science and economics at Stanford University in the early 2010s.

    Since 2016, Luke has been an active cryptocurrency trader, strategically investing in major coins as well as up-and-coming altcoins. He is knowledgeable about advanced crypto trading strategies, market analysis, and the nuances of blockchain protocols.

    In addition to managing his own crypto portfolio, Luke shares his expertise with others as a crypto writer and analyst for leading finance publications. He enjoys educating retail traders about digital assets and is a sought-after voice at fintech conferences worldwide.

    When he's not glued to price charts or researching promising new projects, Luke enjoys surfing, travel, and fine wine. He currently resides in Newport Beach, California where he continues to follow crypto markets closely and connect with other industry leaders.

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