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AssetCo swoops on SVM in £10.7m acquisition

New team: Martin Gilbert and Colin McLean

Martin Gilbert’s AssetCo wealth management company, has acquired Edinburgh-based SVM Asset Management Holdings, the holding company for Colin McLean’s SVM Asset Management for £10.7 million.

SVM is an independent, FCA regulated fund management business which was founded in 1990 by Mr McLean and Margaret Lawson who are the significant majority owners along with a family trust.

The deal brings together veterans of Scotland’s financial services sector and is one of the most significant in Scotland since Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management merged in 2018.

Mr Gilbert, who chairs AssetCo, said the deal was a key plank in building a “significant asset management hub in Edinburgh”.

SVM currently has about £586 million of assets under management, including five open-end funds: UK Growth, UK Opportunities, Continental Europe, All Europe SRI and World Equity.  SVM also manages SVM UK Emerging Fund, a £6.8 million investment trust listed on the London Stock Exchange.

It generated turnover of £4.3 million and a profit before taxation of £2 million for the financial year ended 31 December 2021 and had net assets of £14 million as at 31 December 2021.

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Mr McLean, who is managing director and chief investment officer of SVM, will become a director of AssetCo’s Scottish business, while Ms Lawson who is UK investment director at SVM, will continue in her role managing UK equity portfolios, as will Neil Veitch, Global and UK investment director, and Hugh Cuthbert, European investment manager. SVM’s existing 21 employees will continue to be employed by SVM.

Mr Gilbert, chairman of AssetCo, Peter McKellar, deputy chairman, and Alex Hoctor-Duncan, chief executive, will join the board of SVM on completion of the acquisition.

SVM has a 30-year track record of solid and steady performance and client service and a CEO Mr McLean has been a leading industry figure for several decades.

AssetCo believes that the acquisition will enhance its growing Scottish, as well as wider UK, brand and significantly bolster the strength of its Scottish board with the addition of Mr McLean, Garry Fyfe (Finance Director) and Jonathan Hewitt (Non-Executive Director).

AssetCo believes that, given the strong investment performance delivered by SVM’s fund managers, there are significant opportunities to enhance the distribution and marketing of SVM’s existing funds and, over time, to broaden the product offering.

The SVM funds will also complement the existing listed equity fund strategies offered by AssetCo’s various businesses, most notably those offered by River and Mercantile Asset Management.

Following completion AssetCo will have approximately £3.5 billion of AuM in listed equity fund strategies across its various businesses.  SVM and AssetCo have strong distribution capabilities as well as strong organic growth and the combination of the two, plus the wider product offerings, should result in a much stronger and broader combined entity.

SVM is to spearhead AssetCo’s plans to have a significant asset management hub in Edinburgh, which already includes Saracen Fund Managers and Revera Asset Management (subject to regulatory approval).

In aggregate the three businesses have over £800 million of AuM. All three businesses will retain their distinct active equity investment philosophies and client profiles, however, the intention is that they will share compliance, operational, distribution and marketing resources with River and Mercantile Asset Management. 

Mr McLean said: “When I set up SVM our aim was to leverage quality research and strong fundamentals to underpin our independent thinking and deliver great investor value. I believe that our performance over the years demonstrates that we have been able to achieve this.

“I am pleased that with the backing of AssetCo we will be able to continue to build our focus on, and relationships with, existing clients, creating greater value for them, whilst also broadening our client base and growing assets.”

Mr Gilbert added: “We are immensely proud to be building an asset management hub in Edinburgh that, over time, will broaden its client base across the UK and beyond. SVM is a well-regarded fund management firm, with a recognised investment style and a very strong investment track record. Its business model, people and product offering are its key assets, and it is core to AssetCo’s ambitions. 

“I have known Colin and Margaret for over 30 years, and I am delighted that both have agreed to remain with SVM. Both have built phenomenal reputations as investment managers over many decades in the industry.

“The experience and expertise they will bring to AssetCo will be invaluable. I am also heartened that fund managers of the calibre of Hugh and Neil have committed to the business, as they have important roles to play.

“We are looking forward to working with the four of them, and the rest of the SVM team, as we develop a business to meet the evolving long-term financial needs of investors.”

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