Newport Group Will Merge With Ascensus

The acquisition will expand the solutions and expertise Ascensus provides to its clients and adviser partners.

Ascensus has entered into a definitive agreement for Newport Group, a Walnut Creek, California-based retirement services provider, to merge with Ascensus.

The newly combined organization will offer a broader set of capabilities and products to benefit institutional partners, clients, advisers and retirement savers, the firm says.

With qualified and nonqualified retirement plan services, fiduciary consulting services and corporate- and bank-owned life insurance (COLI and BOLI) practices, Newport will expand the solutions and expertise Ascensus provides to its clients and adviser partners. Similarly, the firms say Newport’s clients will benefit from greater access to tax-advantaged savings solutions across retirement, education and health provided by Ascensus. In addition, the companies both invest in technology and offer digital capabilities and analytics.

David Musto, president and CEO of Ascensus, will serve as CEO of the combined company. Greg Tschider has stepped down as CEO of Newport. To ensure continuity of leadership, operations and client service through closing, Laura Ramanis—who has served as Newport’s chief operating officer (COO) since 2014—has been named interim CEO. She will be supported by Kurt Laning, executive vice president, nonqualified and insurance solutions, along with Newport’s senior management team. Ramanis and Laning will join the Ascensus executive leadership team and remain with the unified company post-closing.

With the merger, Ascensus-administered assets under administration (AUA) will increase to more than $700 billion, including $184 billion in government savings accounts. This includes 529 plans, ABLE [Achieving a Better Life Experience] savings accounts and state-facilitated retirement programs. Ascensus will also have more than 700,000 health and flexible savings and COBRA [Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act] accounts, nearly 300,000 COLI/BOLI policies, and more than 140,000 nonqualified retirement plan participant accounts. With Newport’s business, Ascensus will also see an expanded tax-advantaged savings participant base, which will now reach more than 15 million people across the United States.

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022, subject to the receipt of regulatory approvals, including review and non-objection by the South Dakota Division of Banking; review and approval by the New Hampshire Banking Department; and satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.

“Ascensus and Newport are both respected leaders in the marketplace—and well-known for service excellence, deep expertise, investment independence and purpose-built technology,” Musto says. “We expect the service platform investment, product expansion and enhanced capabilities our union will deliver to be well-received by our collective clients. As a combined company, we’ll be able to even further advance our mission of helping individuals save for what matters.”