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Acquisition looming

Abrdn in £1.5bn talks with Interactive Investor


Abrdn has built up a war chest for acquisitions (pic: Terry Murden)

Wealth manager Abrdn, formerly Standard Life Aberdeen, is in talks to acquire online broker Interactive Investor as the Edinburgh-based business takes a further step into the private investor market.

The companies have confirmed discussions are taking place but did not disclose a price, though sources are indicating a deal in the region of £1.5 billion.

The companies are still discussing terms, and the talks could collapse without an agreement.

A deal would give Abrdn, the FTSE-100 asset manager, control of one of Britain’s three big DIY stock-picking platforms and would represent another bold move by CEO Stephen Bird since he took over in the summer of 2020 and began refocusing the company.

Stephen Bird

Stephen Bird: refocusing the company

He wants to diversify its revenue base across three areas: investment, adviser and personal.

Last month, Abrdn swooped on Finimize, a subscription-based investment tips service.

Abrdn is expected to make a statement to the London Stock Exchange on Monday about its talks with Interactive Investor, according to Sky News.

Interactive Investor is majority owned by private equity firm JC Flowers and Co and has been emerging as a rival to Hargreaves Lansdown and AJ Bell. It was considering a flotation next year.

It has more than 400,000 personal investing clients, positioning it behind only Hargreaves Lansdown by customer numbers in that segment of the investment market.

It acquired the stock-dealing platform The Share Centre, and has about £57 billion in assets under administration.

Abrdn has been able to fund a large deal after selling part of its stake in India’s HDFC in late September.

It was for a time after the merger of Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management the UK’s largest standalone asset manager, before being overtaken by Schroders after losing about £200bn in assets.

An Interactive Investor spokesperson said: “As the UK’s leading, subscription consumer investment platform…Interactive Investor has attracted interest from a number of parties.

“Discussions with Abrdn are ongoing, there can be no certainty that these discussions will result in a transaction. An IPO remains an attractive and possible outcome, and discussions around the process are also under way.”

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