Alliance Trust in platform sale talks as Nucleus lists on Aim

Alliance Trust has announced it is in talks over the sale of its platform, while Nucleus has listed on the alternative investment market (Aim) with a market cap of £139.9m.

platform

In a half-year update, Alliance Trust said it has been in discussions with potential buyers who are interested in the Alliance Trust Savings (ATS) platform business.

It said: “We have received a number of expressions of interest in ATS and are currently considering whether a change of ownership would be in the interests of Alliance Trust shareholders and ATS’ customers and staff.”

Meanwhile, Nucleus, which confirmed its IPO last month, is putting 76,473,360 shares with voting rights and 17,530,543 ordinary shares to new institutional holders with a placing price of 183p.

Buoyant industry

Mike Barrett, consulting director at the Lang Cat, said the increasing number of IPOs is a “sign of a reasonably buoyant industry”.

However, CWC Research founder and platform consultant Clive Waller, said the increasing number of IPOs is symptomatic of a thriving market.

He said: “If I were a shareholder in Nucleus, Transact or AJ Bell, I would want to list while equity markets are strong and the demand for platform services is high – they are now. It is impossible to predict the future, so it makes sense to me to capitalise.”

However, he added: “Alliance Trust is a different story – to date not of success, unlike the others.”

Artificial intelligence

Discussing the platforms that have already floated, Waller said these are unlikely to be the companies that will outlast the competition.

He said: “Clearly the stock market likes them right now. I think we are going to see major changes in the so-called platform space in the next five years. The winners will be those that adapt.

“Blockchain and AI are two known disruptors. Ten years ago, you had never heard of them – nor an iPad. There will be similar stuff we don’t know about now.

“Aggregators are mopping up IFAs so we will see a few very large vertically-integrated firms that will have their own ‘platform’ or custody/admin hub.”

Meanwhile, Barrett added: “As with the current wave of IPOs and listings, it will be the platforms that are either enjoying the support of independent advisers by offering a genuinely great service, and also the providers who have tied/in-house distribution.

“There is a place in the market for both, however we expect the distinction between these models to become clearer for all.”

Board changes

Nucleus also announced the appointment of two independent non-executive directors to its board.

Margaret Hassall will chair the nomination and remuneration committees, and Tracy Dunley-Owen will chair the risk and audit committees.

Mike Seddon and Stephen Tucker have stepped down from the board with immediate effect.

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