Gilbert’s AssetCo still in RNG talks as rival pulls out

Martin Gilbert

Premier Miton Group announced it has withdrawn from acquisition discussions with the board of fund manager River and Mercantile Group (RMG).

This leaves Martin Gilbert’s investment firm AssetCo plc with a few days to decide whether to make an offer for RMG.

On December 21, the UK’s Takeover Panel extended the deadline to January 18 by which AssetCo and rival suitor Premier Miton Group must announce a firm intention to make an offer for RMGwhich manages assets of almost £50 billion.

But on Thursday, Premier Miton said: “Premier Miton Group plc (PMI) announces that, further to its statement on 23 November 2021 confirming that it had approached the Board of River and Mercantile Group PLC (RMG) to explore potentially acquiring the entire issued and to be issued share capital of RMG, PMI will not be making any offer and has withdrawn from discussions.”

Premier Miton CEO Mike O’Shea said: “We are most grateful to the board of RMG for their co-operation and assistance as we have assessed the merits of a possible transaction, especially so given the major changes ongoing in their business.

“We have concluded that there are insufficient commercial merits for our shareholders to make a formal proposal for the acquisition of RMG.

“We wish the employees at RMG well for their future and we look forward with confidence to pursuing our own strategic plans for organic growth while at the same time exploring tactical and strategic opportunities that can further strengthen our business and accelerate our growth.”

AssetCo chairman Gilbert is the former co-CEO of Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA), now called Abrdn.

Gilbert is also deputy chairman of River & Mercantile — but he has “recused himself from the RMG board for the purposes of discussions in relation to the possible offer.”

Gilbert’s AssetCo plc has a 5.85% stake in River and Mercantile Group — while Abrdn owns a 7.5% shareholding.

River and Mercantile Group said: “River and Mercantile notes the announcement by Premier Miton Group plc.

“Discussions remain ongoing with AssetCo plc but, as previously stated, there can be no certainty that a firm offer will be made nor as to the terms of any such offer.

“As set out in the circular regarding the sale of RMG’s Solutions business to Schroders, the board’s focus is on completing the sale of Solutions to Schroders, implementing the planned return of £180m to shareholders and developing RMG into a specialist asset manager. 

“The board has committed to providing shareholders with a broad update on its post-sale strategic plan in the Spring.”