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March, 2017

Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management announced that they had reached a recommended all-share £11bn merger deal which would create “a formidable player in the active asset management industry globally” running over £660bn of assets. Under the terms of the merger, the shareholders of Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management will end up owning 66.7% and 33.3% of the combined group, respectively. Old Mutual agreed to sell a stake worth £356m in its US asset management business to HNA Capital, a Chinese-owned company, which is expected to help pave the way for a flotation of Old Mutual Wealth. In a similar move, it was reported that Aviva is exploring a sale of its Friends Provident International unit, which provides life assurance and investment products, in a deal that is expected to raise between $500m and $700m. Following the warm reception that the stock market gave Xafinity on its listing on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange in February, which raised £46.0m for the company and £125.1m for its selling shareholders, including CBPE, and valued the business at a total of £190.3m, two listed wealth managers tapped the stock market for more capital to help finance further acquisitions of businesses: AFH Financial Group and Harwood Wealth raised £10m each which allowed their management teams to sell down some of their holdings in the wake of strong demand. In a similar vein of favourable stock market demand, private equity funds Cinven and Permira offloaded a combined 10.2% stake in JRP Group for a total of £123.5m, leaving the funds with 15.5% and 23.2% stakes, respectively, and K3 Capital Group, a provider of corporate finance and brokerage services, announced that it is seeking an admission to the AIM list of the London Stock Exchange. Atlas Merchant Capital, the US investment firm created by the former Barclays chief executive, Bob Diamond, announced its intention to make an offer for Panmure Gordon, together with QInvest, the investment vehicle controlled by the Qatari royal family which already holds 43% of the mid-market investment bank, valuing it at £15.5m. Elsewhere in the asset management space Dalton Strategic Partnership acquired MSK Capital Partners, a global equities fund manager with £184m of AUM and, in the wealth management sector, Succession acquired member firms Chamber Group, trading as Lewis Chambers, and Plan4Wealth in a deal that values the businesses at more than £10m. Progeny Group, which provides a combination of wealth management and legal advice, agreed to buy Quadrant Group and Fairstone Group acquired minority stakes in Mortgage Find, Campbell Harrison and Pensions & Wealth Management Services. Other deals in the sector included C. Hoare & Co.’s sale of its investment dealing and custody platform to Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management, Embark Group, the owner of Rowanmoor and Hornbuckle, purchase of the discretionary fund management research business Discus and International Medical Group, a US-based provider of health insurance, acquisition of A La Carte Healthcare, a Sussex-based provider of medical insurance.

February, 2017

Alliance Trust’s shareholders approved the board’s proposals to repurchase activist investor Elliott Advisors’ near 20% stake in the group, currently valued at over £600m, marking the end of a campaign that forced Alliance Trust to reform its business.

Life Company Consolidation Group (LCCG) announced that it had signed an agreement with Reliance Mutual Insurance Society (Reliance Mutual) under which it is proposed that Reliance Mutual will be demutualised and all of its business transferred to LCCG. Reliance Mutual has 200,000 policies and manages £1.9bn of assets.

Mattioli Woods acquired a 49% stake in Amati Global Investors for £3.33m in a mixture of cash and shares and entered into an option agreement with the seller to acquire the remaining 51% in two years. Amati Global Investors is a fund manager focusing on small and medium-sized companies with c. £120m AUM.

The London-headquartered international risk management, insurance and reinsurance broker, and human resources solutions group, Aon, announced that they had entered into an agreement to sell their Employee Benefits Outsourcing business, the largest benefits administration platform in the US, to private equity funds affiliated with the Blackstone Group for up to US$4.8bn, including US$4.3bn (£3.8bn) at closing and additional consideration of up to US$500m based on future performance.

Further consolidation took place among the financial advice networks with Intrinsic, owned by Old Mutual, agreeing to acquire Caerus Capital Group, which provides services to over 300 financial advisers with £4bn of client assets and, elsewhere in the IFA sector, AFH Financial bought Bay Financial Management and the assets of Taylor Frost Wealth Management.

January, 2017

All activity in the Investment sector in January was concentrated in the wealth management space: Quilter Cheviot, part of Old Mutual Wealth, agreed to acquire Attivo Investment Management with £300m of AUM and Bellpenny exchanged contracts on the acquisition of EFG Independent Financial Advisers.

AFH Financial Group was particularly busy, acquiring Aberdeen Wealth ManagementShield Direct and Taylor Frost Wealth ManagementNewell Palmer completed the purchase of A.I.P. Financial Consultants and Fairstone Group entered into an agreement to buy an initial minority stake in Yorkshire-based Lofthouse Gate.