Four asset managers, which together have more than £121bn in assets under management, stand accused this morning of breaking competition law.
Artemis Investment Management, Hargreave Hale, Newton Investment Management and River & Mercantile Asset Management illegally shared information about the pricing of initial public offerings (IPOs) in 2014 and 2015, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has alleged.
The incidents involved one firm disclosing to another the price they intended to pay for one or more of two IPOs and one placing, shortly before prices were set.
This allowed the firms to know each others' plans, when they should have been competing for shares.
The FCA's main allegations are that in 2015, Newton and Hargreave Hale and River & Mercantile disclosed or accepted information about the price they intended to pay for shares in relation to one IPO and a placing.
A year prior, the watchdog said Artemis and Newton shared information about the price they were willing to pay for another IPO.
The FCA has stressed this is only a provisional finding, and will allow the firms to respond before it decides whether competition law has been broken. This is the first case the watchdog is bringing using its competition enforcement powers.
Artemis, which has £27.2bn in assets under management, is owned by its UK-based management team and the US's Affiliated Managers Group (AMG), which owns stakes in a number of asset management firms.
Hargreave Hale was acquired by Canaccord Genuity earlier this year for almost £80m, when it had £8bn in assets under management. Newton is a subsidiary of US banking giant BNY Mellon, with around £55bn under management, while River & Mercantile has around £31bn.