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Gilbert’s AssetCo in bidding battle for R&M

Martin Gilbert

Martin Gilbert: pursuing acquisitions

Fund management veteran Martin Gilbert is in a bidding war for River and Mercantile (R&M).

The founder of Aberdeen Asset Management is in pursuit of R&M through the investment vehicle AssetCo which he chairs.

However, he faces competition from fund manager Premier Miton, which has launched a competing offer.

Both firms already have stakes in R&M, with AssetCo holding 5.85%, and Premier Miton 5%.

Their interest sparked an initial 12% rise in R&M’s shares before closing 8.77%, or 25p, higher at 310p, giving it a value of £265 million.

Both suitors have until just before Christmas to firm up their takeover offers.  

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A deal with either is dependent on R&M’s planned deal with Schroder International Holdings to sell its UK fiduciary management, advisory and derivatives business. The R&M board today announced that it proposes to return £180m to shareholders, following the completion of the sale via a tender offer. This represents approximately 80% of the expected net cash proceeds of £228m. 

As Mr Gilbert is also the deputy chairman of R&M he has stepped back while discussions about a deal take place, according to a statement by AssetCo.

Rival bidder Premier Miton said it had been assessing the merits of a merger, which would reportedly create a group with close to £20bn of assets, with R&M “for a period of time.”

The scale and cultural alignment between the companies would, Premier Miton said in a statement: “deliver a balanced and resilient business across a diversified product offering, enabling employees of the combined businesses to maximise their potential.”

Gilbert founded Aberdeen Asset Management in 1983 and in 2017 steered it into an £11bn merger with Standard Life, now known as Abrdn.

AssetCo has embarked on a spending spree, acquiring Edinburgh asset management boutique Saracen Fund Managers.

Mr Gilbert is also chairman of online bank Revolut and the hedge fund Toscafund as well as being a senior non-executive director at commodities giant Glencore.



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