The top boss at Ascentric has reassured advisers it is “business as usual” at the platform as it has entered sales talks with an unknown buyer.
In a letter to advisers, sent yesterday (February 13), chief executive Rob Regan confirmed Ascentric had entered preliminary discussions involving the sale of the Royal London platform business, adding it was “absolutely appropriate” to explore the strategic options available to the firm.
But Mr Regan stressed Ascentric had a “well-funded plan for 2020 and beyond”, its current service position was "strong" and it would continue to deliver regular platform improvements.
He also said the firm had advisers' and their clients' long term interests at the front of mind when exploring future options.
Mr Regan added: “I don’t expect this news to lead to any material changes across our business over the coming months.
“You have my commitment that we will keep our focus on you during this period.”
Mark Polson, director at consultancy firm the Lang Cat, said he was surprised at the “really big news” of the potential sale.
He said: “If it’s the case that a business like Ascentric does not fit in the Royal London strategy it’s good they dispose of it.
“It’s better for a business like that to be within somebody who wants it. It’s also sensible timing as it's starting to come out the woodwork a bit and it’s turned a corner.”
Ben Hammond, platform director at consultancy firm Altus, was also surprised, adding Ascentric was “core to what [Royal London] does”.
The pace of merger and acquisitions activity in the platforms market has been on the up over the past few years.
Last November Embark’s expansion in the platform space continued with the company’s acquisition of the Zurich platform, just months after it bought the advised business of Alliance Trust Savings from Interactive Investor.
Private equity firms have also reared their heads into the platform world. Epiris bought the James Hay platform last year while Wealthtime was snapped up by AnaCap Financial Partners just this week.
But some market participants have warned M&A deals rarely work out. Technology migration issues have hit the headlines over the past few years, while others suggested the people and culture at firms could make or break the transitions.
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