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Liontrust deal to buy Gam leaves much to untangle

Some news hot off the presses this morning as we just got off the phone with Liontrust boss Jon Ions, fresh from the announcement of his deal to buy Gam.

We imagine most of you have seen the top lines by now, but for those who haven't: Liontrust is buying Gam (but not its fund administration business) in a deal which values the Swiss company at £96mn - a 16 per cent discount.

One of the things topics raised was the future of the Gam discretionary business, a relatively small player with £500mn or so of assets. 

Readers might remember that when Liontrust bought Architas in 2020 it rebranded it and brought it under the control of its multi-asset team.

But Ions says the Gam proposition will continue to be managed separately for now as around 80 per cent of its clients are in Europe.

That contrasts with the heavy UK focus of the £5.5bn Liontrust DFM range, which is operated on a fund of funds basis and has almost all of its clients in the UK. 

Some other snippets from the call included the revelation that while Gam's asset management business ran about the same level of assets as Liontrust, it did so with more than twice as many staff.

This means an unspecified number of redundancies are afoot.

One of the issues for the combined company will be the extent to which the deal diversifies Liontrust’s business.

Some 25 per cent of its AUM is in UK equity mandates run by Anthony Cross, whose Special Situations fund is owned by seven of the allocators we cover and is the most popular Liontrust fund among the DFMs we cover.

As IA flows data has repeatedly shown, investors have been heading for the exit from that asset class for many years, indicating that it may not be where a firm wants to hang its hat in future. 

Gam is a complicated business with much to untangle, we will keep readers posted on what comes next.   

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