Gilbert's attention shifts to wealth firms after R&M deal

Gilbert's attention shifts to wealth firms after R&M deal
Martin Gilbert, chairman of AssetCo

Martin Gilbert has revealed that after completing the acquisition of River & Mercantile, his AssetCo business is shifting its focus to the wealth sector.

AssetCo now owns River & Mercantile, Saracen Fund Managers and stakes in Parmenion and Rize ETF.

The R&M deal was completed today for £98.8m, payable in AssetCo shares, with existing R&M investors also receiving the £190m cash proceeds from the sale of the River & Mercantile Solutions business to Schroders.   

Gilbert said the R&M deal had been a big focus of his "for much of the past year" and that AssetCo now had "nothing imminent" in the acquisition pipeline.

But he said: "We see a lot of potential transactions and we will see what comes up in the market. We are delighted with the quality of River & Mercantile as a business and are focused on improving the businesses we own.

"In terms of what next, we are looking at opportunities right across the spectrum, including in the wealth space, the focus would be on the faster growing areas of the wealth space."

Gilbert bought a stake in AssetCo in 2021 and was named its chairman shortly after.

AssetCo was a cash shell when Gilbert bought it. Originally the company was founded to supply fire services to the Gulf states, but when it lost this contract it became a shell that Gilbert and his associates bought.

Gilbert said one of the benefits of the deal was that AssetCo would be able to help Saracen and R&M distribute their funds to investors and advisers.

He said: “We are very keen on the active equity business, and we think the markets are going to move our way. I think we can help Saracen and River & Mercantile with distribution. The Saracen investment process sits neatly within the River & Mercantile capabilities. The key is to play to the strengths of the talented fund managers, but where we can make savings we will.” 

As part of the takeover announcement, AssetCo revealed it intends to explore the development of a private assets business at R&M, and Gilbert described the potential for infrastructure focused investment products as having "great potential".

He said he hoped AssetCo could provide Saracen and R&M with “financial strength” to attract talent as well as “provide to them the benefit of my 40 years of experience and contacts in the business.

Gilbert added: "I also hope the strength of the AssetCo brand will help draw people in."

He noted that Saracen has added a fund manager to its small team in the period since AssetCo acquired it, with the addition of Alastair Birch to the team.