Alliance Trust Savings deal takes Embark to £22bn

Retirement and investment firm Embark Group has agreed in principle to acquire the advised and partnership client books of Dundee-based Alliance Trust Savings (ATS) from interactive investor (II) for an undisclosed amount.

The deal includes the purchase of the Alliance Trust Savings building in Dundee, which will become Embark’s platform operation centre and group headquarters, with platform service partner FNZ also occupying space in the building.

The transaction will bring more than £6 billion of assets under administration (AuA) along with 30,000 new clients to Embark, taking Embark Group to over £22 billion AuA on behalf of over 180,000 consumer clients.

The acquisition will cement Embark’s position as one of the few long-term players in the UK retirement space able to offer a full range of capabilities suitable for all levels of client affluence and distribution channels.

It follows a recent material capital raise which included funding from new investors BlackRock, Legg Mason and Merian Chrysalis.

Embark Group CEO Phil Smith said: “This acquisition presents a perfect opportunity to accelerate our growth strategy by acquiring a book of platform assets with high SIPP penetration, as well as complementary distribution relationships.

“This takes our group AuA to well in excess of £22bn and reinforces our position as one of the fastest growing disruptors in the UK investment savings and platform market.

“It also offers an excellent opportunity to establish a centre for our operations and growth in Scotland, enabling us to access local talent and FinTech capabilities, assisted by cross-government support.”

Richard Wilson, CEO of interactive investor, said: “Embark is the right partner to take the advisory and partnership business forward, with Dundee remaining an important platform and employment centre.

“The ATS jobs have been protected which was a key consideration and I have no doubt they will take the business from strength to strength.

“The divestment will allow ii to focus on its single purpose: to serve the self-directed retail investor, and the increased scale means we can continue to invest in providing a class leading customer experience, excellent value and a wealth of impartial information to help customers make better-informed investment decisions.”

FNZ Group CEO Adrian Durham said: “FNZ is delighted to support our long-term strategic partner Embark in the continued growth of their business.

“As part of this transaction we will be opening a permanent strategic operations centre in Dundee, strengthening our long-term 15 year commitment to Scotland as a key technology & operations centre for FNZ.

“We expect this to create a wide range of opportunities for the existing employees of ATS, now Embark, and more generally in Dundee as the FNZ business continues to grow strongly.

“This will operate alongside our existing operations centres in Edinburgh and Brno (Czech Republic) to strengthen the Platform Service we provide to our European clients.”

Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, said: “Embark’s plans to retain the site in Dundee is good news for employees and for the economy of the city.

“The Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International have been working closely with the company and will continue to provide support going forward.”