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Merian ups stake in Embark after platform purchase

Merian ups stake in Embark after platform purchase

Embark Group has secured more than £12m of extra funds from the Merian Chrysalis investment trust, set to accelerate the platform’s “ambitious growth plans”.

In a portfolio update to the stock exchange this morning (November 27), Merian Chrysalis Investment Company announced a follow-on investment of £12.2m in Embark.

The trust said the investment was to allow the group to speed up the acquisition of the Zurich platform, announced by Embark last week (November 20).

The Zurich purchase will add about £11bn of assets under management and more than 130,000 clients to Embark.

Merian Chrysalis had already invested £14.9m in the company earlier this year (July 4) — a move which gave it a 19.9 per cent stake in the business.

Richard Watts, co-portfolio manager at the trust, said: "Since our initial investment, Embark has established itself as a disruptive force in the UK retirement and savings market. Embark will be a £33bn Aum franchise with exceptional balance across product, distribution channel and activity type. 

“The acquisition of Zurich is perfectly aligned with the company's growth strategy and we look forward to working with Phil and team as they capitalise on a very material opportunity.''

Just yesterday US fund giant Franklin Templeton announced it had bought a “material stake” in Embark, with its UK head Martyn Gilbey claiming the investment provided the firm with a “deeper insight into the opportunity set in our market”.

He declined to reveal the size of his firm's holding in the platform, but said Franklin Templeton was the second largest shareholder in Embark.

Other shareholders include fund houses BlackRock and Legg Mason and platform technology provider FNZ.

Embark’s Zurich purchase is the platform’s second acquisition of the year. In October, Embark agreed to buy the adviser platform business Alliance Trust Savings from Interactive Investor.

The platform is set to ditch ATS’ flat fee model, branding the structure “regressive” and “only advantageous to high net worth investors”.

Embark has since revealed it would target cash management services to grow the platform, a move its chief executive Phil Smith described as “sensible”, providing “significant growth potential”.

imogen.tew@ft.com

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