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Strategy change

Gilbert to chair AssetCo in switch to acquisitions

Martin Gilbert

Martin Gilbert: change of plan (pic: Terry Murden)

Scottish fund management veteran Martin Gilbert has been named chairman of AssetCo, the investment vehicle in which he acquired a stake at the turn of the year.

AssetCo said it would be changing strategy to focus on “acquiring, managing and operating asset and wealth management activities and interests.”

The Aberdeen Asset Management founder and former co-CEO at Standard Life Aberdeen will replace current chairman Tudor Davies, who will become non-executive director from 15 April.

Mr Gilbert’s former Standard Life Aberdeen colleague Peter McKellar becomes deputy chairman. Mr McKellar, who was global head of markets at SLA, will serve as interim chief executive.

Gordon Neilly, SLA’s former global strategy chief, is also believed to be an investor in AssetCo.

Mr Davies said AssetCo had raised £55m in the last year but because of the challenges of developing an overseas business in the Middle East the board had decided to change tack and review its strategy.

“This led to a tender offer to buy back 50% of the share capital at a cost of £26.9m, followed by the proposal to utilise the Assetco platform to build an exciting asset and wealth management business.”

Mr Davies said AssetCo believes there is “exceptional growth opportunities” to snap up asset managers that have failed to adapt to structural shifts, including changing interest rate dynamics, the shift to passive investment and lower fees, increased regulation and use of technology and a greater focus on ESG.

The shift in strategy reveals more about Mr Gilbert’s intentions following his departure from Standard Life Aberdeen in 2019.

He was among a consortium of investors who bought a 29.8% stake in Assetco in January. He paid £3m for a 9.9% holding and Mr McKellar acquired a 3.4% stake.

AssetCo has since built a 5.85% stake in asset manager River & Mercantile, where Mr Gilbert is deputy chairman.

He also purchased shares in responsible investment specialist Alquity which is run by a number of his former colleagues at Aberdeen Asset Management.

Shareholders in AssetCo will vote on the change in the AIM-traded company’s strategy at the AGM on 15 April.

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