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VOL. 130 | NO. 64 | Thursday, April 2, 2015

Highland Capital Management Merges With Florida Firm

By Andy Meek

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Memphis-based investment firm Highland Capital Management has merged with a Florida-based financial firm.

Highland Capital has acquired the assets of ICC Capital Management, a combination that increases client assets under management at Highland to $2.8 billion. As a result, Highland’s parent company, Louisiana-based wealth management firm Argent Financial Group, is now responsible for client assets of more than $11 billion.

WISHNIA

Highland Capital president and managing director Steve Wishnia will continue to lead the combined firm. In a statement about the deal, he said that, at its core, “this merger combined two money management firms with complementary areas of expertise.”

“By increasing our client base and expanding our core investment vehicles,” he explained, “Highland can even more effectively serve our clients and prospective clients.”

Highland Capital specializes in managing equity and fixed-income portfolios for endowments, foundations, institutions and high net worth clients. Orlando-based ICC, meanwhile, has managed portfolios for similar clients with an additional focus on public pension funds and Taft-Hartley pension plans.

ICC began managing clients assets in 1995 when its founding shareholder spun away from a different company and moved institutional assets and clients with him. And according to the firm, many of those institutional clients that retained the firm in the 1970s are still clients today, with the average tenure of the firm’s institutional relationships topping 12 years.

In addition to its Memphis headquarters, Highland has regional offices in Orlando and Mobile, Ala. Kyle McDonald, CEO of Highland’s parent firm Argent, said the addition of ICC to Highland “deepens our expertise” and enhances the range of portfolio management services it can offer clients.

ICC managing director Michael Tindal attributes the room for growth specifically to combining ICC’s pension services and Highland Capital’s long performance history.

“This is a merger of two firms with excellent strengths,” Tindal said. “We’re fortunate to be teaming up with investment managers who value the security and success of our clients as much as we do.”

The deal is a big move for both Highland and a continuation of the growth story at Argent, which has expanded at a steady clip since arriving in the Memphis market several years ago.

When Argent first came onto the scene, it had acquired Memphis-based Investment Counsel and Trust Co., later hiring several professionals from Regions Morgan Keegan Trust and acquiring Sector Capital Management LLC.

With headquarters in Ruston, La., Argent Financial Group has been operating since 1990. Its business lines include a range of financial products and services like trust, advisory and fiduciary consulting services.

Highland Capital was brought into the Argent family in 2013, when both firms announced a merger.

In recent days, Argent added to its executive ranks in Memphis, bringing on David Franks as senior vice president and relationship manager. He joins market president of Argent Trust Ed Brundick as the firm’s local executives, and Franks will manage client relationships for individuals and institutions.

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