Martin Gilbert’s asset management vehicle, AssetCo, has been given extra time to either “put up or shut up” over a mooted move for River and Mercantile (R&M) Group.
R&M, headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, said last month it had received approaches from both AssetCo – whose shares were down nearly 4% to £15.50 at market close today (December 21) – and Premier Miton Group about possible offers for the business.
Any offer is conditional on the completion of the sale of R&M’s “solutions” business, which was approved by the company’s shareholders on December 13.
AssetCo and Premier Miton were required by not later than 5pm today to either announce a firm intention to make an offer or walk away, in accordance with City takeover rules.
River and Mercantile has great potential as an active equity and infrastructure investment manager with people, clients and product offering that would complement our existing businesses.”
Campbell Fleming, chief executive, AssetCo.
In an announcement to the London Stock Exchange earlier today, R&M said: “Discussions between the board and each of AssetCo and Premier Miton remain ongoing.
“The company has requested, and the Panel on Takeovers and Mergers… has consented to an extension to the deadline by which both AssetCo and Premier Miton are required either to announce a firm intention to make an offer for River and Mercantile in accordance with Rule 2.7 of the Code (takeover rules) or to announce that they do not intend to make an offer.
“Such announcements must now be made by not later than 5pm on January 18.
“This revised deadline may be extended further, at the request of the board of River and Mercantile and with the consent of the Takeover Panel.”
Responding, AssetCo said it “continues to believe” RMG’s asset management activities are “highly complementary” to its own business.
It added: “A combination of AssetCo and RMG Asset Management would create significant value for the combined group’s clients, portfolio managers, employees and shareholders.
“The AssetCo directors also believe there is material value in leveraging other elements of the AssetCo business and strategy to increase the value of RMG Asset Management and widen investor appeal.”
But AssetCo stressed: “There can be no certainty that a firm offer will be made, nor as to the terms of any such offer. A further announcement will be made in due course.”
This should allow sufficient time to finalise a potential offer.”
AssetCo chief executive Campbell Fleming said: “We note that the board of River and Mercantile Group has agreed to an extension of the offer period.
“This should allow sufficient time to finalise a potential offer to acquire River and Mercantile, excluding its solutions business, for the benefit of both AssetCo and River and Mercantile shareholders.
“River and Mercantile has great potential as an active equity and infrastructure investment manager with people, clients and product offering that would complement our existing businesses.
“It will also accelerate, and be a core part of our focus on, building an agile 21st Century asset and wealth management business that meets the needs of investors.”
As of September 30, London and Guildford-based Premier Miton had £13.9 billion of assets under management.
Wales-based AssetCo previously described itself as a provider of management and resources to the fire and emergency services in the Middle East.
That was until Mr Gilbert, the co-founder and former chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, and other investors teamed up to take a 29.8% stake in the business.
Gilbert already on R&M’s board
Other consortium investors include Peter McKellar – the former global head of private markets at Aberdeen Standard Investments – and ToscaFund Asset Management, where Mr Gilbert is chairman.
Mr Gilbert, who personally owns 8.6% of AssetCo, joined River and Mercantile Group as deputy chairman on January 6 this year.
The 66-year-old entrepreneur is also chairman of fast-growing financial technology firm Revolut.