Abrdn acquisition of Interactive questioned by Numis

Analysts at London stockbroker and corporate adviser Numis have urged Abrdn shareholders to “carefully consider how they vote” at the March 15 meeting to approve the Edinburgh investment giant’s £1.49 billion purchase of Manchester-based investment platform Interactive Investor.

With more than 400,000 retail clients and around £59 billion in assets under administration, Interactive Investor is the UK’s second largest fund platform.

Abrdn currently has assets under management and administration (AUMA) of £542 billion.

“We can see the general appeal of gaining exposure to a higher growth part of the industry, but we are still not convinced that Abrdn is the right owner for this business,” wrote Numis analysts in a note.

Numis noted a lack of cost synergies in the acquisition, claiming Interactive Investor could be worth less “when incorporated into Abrdn.”

Numis questioned whether Abrdn shareholders would be better off if the £1.49 billion was instead returned to investors.

It said this would allow Abrdn shareholders to buy shares in rival platforms Hargreaves Lansdown or AJ Bell.

“We therefore think shareholders need to carefully consider how they vote,” wrote the Numis analysts.

“We could quite understand if shareholders voted against the deal and subsequently pushed for return of that capital.”

A spokesperson for Abrdn said the acquisition of Interactive Investor was about “about adding new customers, scale and revenue diversification rather than cost synergies.”

The spokesperson said: “While a return of capital might provide a one-off benefit to shareholders, we believe the growth potential of Interactive Investor, within the Abrdn group offers the opportunity for attractive long-term shareholder value.”