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The sale of Allworth Financial is heating up with a winning bidder expected soon, according to four banking and private-equity executives.

The auction has narrowed to three private equity firms; final bids were due last week, Oct. 6, two of the sources said.

Raymond James

(ticker: RJF) and

Moelis

(MC) are advising on the process, people said.

Allworth, which is owned by Parthenon Capital, is expected to sell for roughly $750 million to $800 million, one of the people said.

Allworth is an RIA aggregator that buys up smaller wealth managers. The Sacramento firm scooped up Capstone Capital in May, Houston Asset Management in April and, in October, it bought Retirement Advisors of America. Allworth, in May, had roughly $8 billion of assets under management, according to a statement.

Parthenon invested in Allworth in 2017 when the firm was known as Hanson McClain Advisors. Parthenon, of Boston and San Francisco, invests in financial services, health care services and business services. The private-equity firm is investing out its sixth flagship fund which raised $2 billion in December.

The Allworth sale is the latest in the wealth and asset management space. Last week,

Morgan Stanley (MS)

shocked many when it agreed to buy asset manager Eaton Vance (EV) for $7 billion. The sale is expected to set off more consolidation. “If

Eaton Vance

is selling— they’re considered one of the strong companies—then that tells you the mediocre and bad companies are selling,” one banker said.

Private-equity firms have been frequent investors of wealth managers. Hellman & Friedman owns Edelman Financial Engines, while TA Associates acquired Wealth Enhancement Group from Lightyear Capital in 2019. (TA and Genstar Capital own Orion Advisor Solutions.) GTCR bought a minority stake of CapTrust in June. Genstar and Lovell Minnick Partners sold a minority

DUBAI (Reuters) – Dubai’s non-oil private sector expanded for a third consecutive month in September as it continued to see a modest improvement in business conditions, a survey showed on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows the area outside the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, mostly deserted, after a curfew was imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Dubai, United Arab Emirates March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Tarek Fahmy/File Photo

The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit Dubai Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 51.5 in September from 50.9 in August.

The sector emerged from three months of contraction in June, when it settled at the 50.0 mark that represents no change.

The coronavirus crisis has badly hit vital economic sectors of Dubai, the Middle East trade and tourism hub.

While the data was below July’s reading and markedly below the series average of 54.7, it “indicated stronger increases in both output and new business across the private sector in September,” the report said.

“September PMI data finalised a third-quarter period of modest economic recovery in Dubai,” said David Owen, economist at survey complier IHS Markit.

The output sub-index rose to 53.8 in September from 52.7 in August. It peaked at 56.1 this year in July.

“On the downside, the PMI has failed to lift off or signal any strong rebounds in output so far, with firms often initiating price cuts in order to drive sales higher. Meanwhile, employment data signalled a cautious outlook as firms often shed workers to manage cost pressures and enable discounting,” Owen said.

The United Arab Emirates, with a tally at more than 105,000 infections and 443 deaths, has seen the number of daily new coronavirus cases surge over the past two months.

Business sentiment for the next six months improved slightly in

Private insurers are reaping a veritable windfall from the federal government’s heavy spending on the elderly — with demand from the COVID-19 pandemic leading to more robust offerings.

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Following a trend that has been growing in the past few years, both Cigna (CI) and United Health Group (UNH) announced expansions of their Medicare Advantage plans for 2021 — with Cigna expanding in 67 counties and UnitedHealth expanding in 300 counties.

In addition, Walmart (WMT) has joined in with its own insurance education services, in order to help seniors sign up for Medicare plans.

The two health insurance giants are expanding in an increasingly competitive market, dominated by players like Humana (HUM) and Centene (CNC). They are also seeing a swell of startups including Clover Health, Oscar and Bright Health.

According to Brian Evanko, Cigna’s president of Government Business, insurers are faced with a convergence of factors that include a willing government payor, an increasingly aging population, and the flexibility to compete with robust offerings.

Many plans have $0 premiums —a key selling point — and thanks to the popularity of telehealth during the pandemic, both insurers are offering $0 copays on telehealth visits. Cigna is now offering behavioral health virtual visits, as well, while UnitedHealth promoted its $35 cap on insulin.

For Cigna, traditionally a big player in commercial and employer-sponsored plans, the expansion marks the largest in the space to-date. The overall number of counties, 369 in 2021, represents 30% of the Medicare market in America, and a 22% growth from the previous year, Evanko said. By 2024, the company is targeting 50% of the market.

And companies like Cigna will continue to shift their resources and efforts into the Medicare Advantage market, as ongoing bipartisan support fuels growth. It’s a captive pipeline, Evanko explained.

“There are

DUBAI, Oct 5 (Reuters)Saudi Arabia’s non-oil private sector returned to growth in September for the first time in seven months, a survey showed on Monday, amid stronger demand after a loosening of lockdown measures imposed to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 50.7 from 48.8 in August, going above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction for the first time since February, prior to the pandemic.

“Business activity in the Saudi Arabia non-oil private sector ticked up in September, supported by a return to sales growth as the economy started to find its footing after the COVID-19 lockdown,” said David Owen, economist at IHS Markit.

“In addition, the impact of a rise in VAT notably softened, after a sharp rise in prices and a dip in sales were seen in August. Cost inflation eased to just a marginal pace.”

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, tripled VAT in July to 15% to boost state coffers badly hit by low oil prices and crude production cuts, in a move economists said will likely slow economic recovery from the coronavirus downturn.

Business conditions had deteriorated in August, partly because of the impact of VAT on consumer spending and on input costs for businesses.

In September the rise in input costs was much weaker as the tax impact eased considerably, said the survey. Job markets, however, remained subdued, with employment decreasing for the eight consecutive month.

Saudi Arabia said last week that unemployment among Saudi citizens rose to a record-high of 15.4% in the second quarter, while the economy shrank by 7%.

The Saudi economy still has “some way to go to fully recover,” said Owen.

“Output growth remains well below normal, and jobs are still

Walmart
WMT
has tied up a deal to sell the U.K. supermarket group Asda Group to gas station tycoons the Issa brothers and private equity firm TDR Capital for £6.8 billion ($8.8 billion) after a merger with Sainsbury was blocked last year.

The transaction—made on a debt-free and cash-free basis—is set to close in the first half of 2021 subject to the usual regulatory approvals. Under the new ownership structure, the Issas and TDR Capital will have majority ownership of Asda through equal shareholdings, with Walmart retaining an ongoing equity investment.

Walmart says that it will have a continuing commercial relationship, expected to be a supply and sourcing arrangement, and it will also retain a seat on the Asda board.

In a statement on the deal, Judith McKenna, President and CEO of Walmart International, said: “We believe it creates the right ownership structure for Asda, building on its 71 year-heritage, whilst bringing a new entrepreneurial flair, not only to Asda, but also to UK retailing. Walmart will retain a significant financial stake, a board seat, and will continue as a strategic partner.”

She went on to praise the U.K. supermarket’s contribution to the world’s biggest retailer, describing Asda as a “powerhouse of innovation for the rest of the Walmart world.”

The Issa brothers are co-CEOs of EG Group, a global convenience and gas station forecourts retailer, headquartered in Blackburn in the U.K. with pro forma revenue in 2019 of almost $30 billion. The Issas founded Euro Garages in 2001, with a single petrol station in Bury, Greater Manchester and now have a diversified portfolio of over 6,000 sites across 10