Hoctor-Duncan becomes CEO at Gilbert’s R&M

Martin Gilbert

River and Mercantile Group’s chief executive James Barham will move to Schroders as part of its purchase of R&M’s fiduciary arm Solutions for an enterprise value of £230 million, a deal that was confirmed on Tuesday.

River and Mercantile shares rose about 20%. Solutions’ assets under management as at September 30, 2021, were £42 billion.

Alex Hoctor-Duncan, former global head of Aberdeen Standard Investments, will replace Barham as chief executive of River and Mercantile Group (RMG).

Martin Gilbert, former co-CEO of Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA), is deputy chairman of River & Mercantile.

Gilbert’s investment vehicle AssetCo plc has a 5.8% stake in River and Mercantile Group while abrdn owns a 7.6% shareholding.

River and Mercantile Group announced in May the appointment of Hoctor-Duncan to the River & Mercantile board as an executive director, responsible for strategic development.

River and Mercantile Group chair Jonathan Dawson said: “We felt the company’s share price undervalued RMG and believed that the greatest value for shareholders could be unlocked through a formal sale process.

“We believe that the price and terms that have been agreed are attractive and that Schroders will be a very good owner for the business.

“We encourage shareholders to support the transaction, as the board will be doing in respect of voting their own holdings, following their unanimous approval of the sale.

“The Solutions business has grown strongly over the last five years and delivered excellent results through the recent CMA review compared with its peers.

“Investment performance has continued to be strong, the business was appointed by twelve new clients over the last year and the pipeline for future growth is very compelling.

“The board believes that the ability to deliver on this and future growth opportunities in an exciting and dynamic market will be enhanced by being part of Schroders and will benefit from the additional investment and scope that will come through this transaction.

“The proceeds will not only allow us to make a significant return of capital to shareholders, but also to focus on accelerating the organic and acquisitive growth of our specialist asset management business.

“A clear position as a pure asset manager, together with an enlarged sales footprint, and increasing product offering, will provide significant asset raising potential and generate continued growth.

“As part of the transaction, James Barham will be leaving RMG to join Schroders.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank James for his service to the business from founding River and Mercantile in 2006, through to the merger and more recently his leadership since he became the group chief executive in 2019, including managing this complex sale process and delivering meaningful value for shareholders.

“I am delighted that Alex Hoctor-Duncan will be the new CEO of RMG, bringing us the benefit of his skill set and prior track record to drive our future growth.”

Barham said: “Our Solutions business is a scarce asset in an attractive and growing market segment.

“Our success has been forged through our distinctive investment philosophy, process and clear strategic thinking, integrated implementation, and the strength and capability of our people.

“This approach is based on a clear understanding of our clients’ needs and has delivered very strong returns for clients since 2003.

“We have worked hard during this process to not only achieve the optimum valuation for shareholders, but also find the very best partner for our clients and people.

“I have been encouraged by the strong interest shown by the bidders and I believe that Schroders is the right choice and represents an excellent owner for the long- term future growth of the business.  

“I am excited by the strength of this combination and the continuity and opportunity this provides for our clients and people.

“I am thrilled to be joining Schroders and the opportunity to build on the exceptional Solutions platform we have developed over the last twenty years.

“It has been a great honour to lead a simply fantastic business and to work with such incredibly talented people.

“We are a people-led business and it is the strength of those people that define the strength of the organisation. Schroders displays these same characteristics, giving us confidence that we will continue to develop as a market leading Solutions business with one of the UK’s largest asset managers.”