River and Mercantile acquisition sails through Assetco vote

Just two ballots were cast against the deal


Assetco chairman Martin Gilbert (pictured) thanked shareholders for their “overwhelming support” after his firm’s acquisition of River and Mercantile secured all but two of the votes cast at a general meeting on Wednesday.

The £100m all-share deal, which has been structured as a reverse takeover per AIM rules, was agreed on 25 January but needed the backing of both R&M and Assetco shareholders.

With R&M shareholders having already given it the nod, it was down to Assetco shareholders to seal the deal – which they emphatically did.

Two resolutions were put forward: the first approved the acquisition and the second authorised the directors to allot ordinary shares in the capital of the company, or grant rights to convert any security into ordinary shares, up to a maximum of £624.4m.

Turnout was 73%, with over 6.1 million votes cast in favour of both resolutions.

Just two votes were cast against each motion.

The acquisition will not complete until a sanction hearing takes place, which is expected in Q2.

One-year anniversary

Gilbert described the “overwhelming support” the company received as “an important step in our journey”.

“We are looking forward to completing the acquisition, subject to regulatory approval, and welcoming the highly regarded R&M team and their clients to Assetco.

“Twelve months ago, almost to the day, we received shareholder approval to implement a strategy to develop Assetco into an asset and wealth manager. We have already made significant progress through establishing interests in an active equity manager, a thematic ETF provider and a wealth management platform.

“River and Mercantile will now become our core equity offering and its infrastructure capability will be the cornerstone of our private markets business.”

See also: Assetco acquisition spree continues with Revera Asset Management

Long and winding road

The acquisition may still have a hurdle or two to overcome before the deal is done, but it has been a far from smooth journey.

River and Mercantile confirmed in November last year that Assetco and Premier Miton had each made overtures. The latter eventually dropped out of the race but even then the Assetco deal was not guaranteed after two false starts saw deadlines extended.

The £230m sale of R&M’s Solutions business to Schroders was a key part of the deal and closed at the end of January.

But a week later, it was confirmed that founding partner and heavy hitter Dan Harbury was leaving R&M to return to his former outfit Ninety One – or Investec as it was known during his tenure.

This prompted a statement of support from Assetco: “Asset management is a people business and individuals leaving and joining organisations is a regular occurrence.”

Harbury’s UK smaller companies fund was handed over to George Esnor, who also manages the R&M UK Micro Cap Investment Company, while recently appointed former Schroders man Matt Hudson is now named as manager of his UK Equity Income fund.

R&M also lost a £927m mandate in February, and revealed the following month it had swung to a loss in the first half of financial year 2022.

See also: Alex Hoctor-Duncan splashes £500k on River and Mercantile stock


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