AST Trust Company, a division of American Stock Transfer & Trust Company, has acquired Capital Trust Co. of Delaware, creating what the Phoenix-based trust company calls the nation's fifth largest "advisor-friendly" trust company with $19 billion in assets. Initially, Capital Trust will continue to operate under its own name.
   Capital Trust's former majority shareholder, CSC of Wilmington, Del., had put the trust company up for sale last year after it apparently concluded that the business was not a sound strategic fit with CSC's primary agent-of-record business. However, CSC did keep some of the corporate trust business that Capital Trust had developed. No purchase price was disclosed.
   The new combined entity will operate offices in New York, Phoenix, Wilmington, Denver and Portland, Ore. It will retain its status as a Delaware-chartered trust company, allowing advisors and their clients to continue enjoying the benefits of Delaware's favorable laws governing trusts. Capital Trust's founder and original CEO, Jeff Lauterbach, frequently cited Delaware trust law as an advantage of affiliating with the company.
   Greg Tschider, president of AST Trust, stresses that AST is buying the entire company, including the Delaware charter, and there will be no need for advisors to redocument their accounts. "I think what's important to them [advisors affiliated with Capital Trust] and to their clients is that there really is no disruption," he says.
   He also notes that Capital Trust staff will remain intact, adding that AST has signed a two-year lease, with an option for five years, on the Delaware office currently occupied by Capital Trust. Among the services that will be made available to Capital Trust advisors as a result of the acquisition are retirement trust administration services.
   Tschider says AST and Capital Trust have similar strategies and client profiles, centered on services for "independent advisors and brokers at wirehouses that allow them to leverage our solutions to gather more assets." The acquisition of the Delaware charter will also bring potential advantages, he says. AST operates under a New York charter.
   He said he doesn't anticipate any changes in fees for Capital Trust advisors. "The Capital Trust existing schedule is very consistent with ours," he explains.
   The AST technology platform will gradually integrate Capital Trust's database, but it will be a transparent process for Capital Trust advisors, he says. "Technology wise, we probably have a more robust technology platform, in large part due to our size, so we plan to integrate capital trust into our technology platform."

-FAnews Staff Report