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Deals in pipeline

Gilbert’s AssetCo builds war chest for acquisitions

Martin Gilbert

Martin Gilbert: ‘attractive opportunities exist’ (pic: Terry Murden)

Fund manager Martin Gilbert’s investment vehicle AssetCo is preparing to unleash a £30m-plus spending spree on the wealth and fund management market.

The former Standard Life Aberdeen co-CEO and founder of Aberdeen Asset Management is targeting a number of companies for acquisition.

The company has benefited from the successful conclusion of a Grant Thornton litigation and the receipt of the remaining litigation award and costs. This resulted in AssetCo having accumulated cash balances of approximately £57.8m.

This formed the basis for returning £26.9m to shareholders, by way of a tender offer, and for the balance of £30.9m to provide the initial resources for the company’s new asset and wealth management strategy.

In an interim update, Mr Gilbert, chairman, said: ‘Following the change in the company’s strategy to ‘acquiring, managing and operating asset and wealth management activities and interests, together with other related services’, the management team has been examining a number of organic and inorganic proposals and is at various stages of discussion and negotiation.”

He added: “The focus of this work is on areas of the asset and wealth management sector where the board believes that, due to the structural changes impacting the sector, attractive opportunities for investment exist. The board is hopeful of being able to announce further activity in the short term.”

Mr Gilbert was part of a consortium that set out to shift the focus of AssetCo and he was appointed chairman after investing £3 million in a fundraising exercise.

Peter McKellar, who was head of global private markets and Aberdeen Standard Investments, became deputy chairman and chief executive.

AssetCo’s first major move was to take a significant stake in River and Mercantile, which it followed with a £2.75m deal to buy Edinburgh boutique Saracen Fund Managers.

It has hired former Gary Collins from Columbia Threadneedle to lead the development of Saracen’s fund business.

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