Fund management veteran Martin Gilbert has been thrown into a bidding war for River and Mercantile (R&M) after the asset manager revealed it has been approached by more than one suitor.
Both AssetCo, an Aim-listed acquisition vehicle chaired by Gilbert, and rival fund manager Premier Miton have made bids for R&M.
Both firms already have stakes in R&M, with AssetCo holding 5.85 per cent, and Premier Miton 5 per cent.
A battle for R&M, shares of which surged 12 per cent during morning trading, now appears imminent. AssetCo and Premier Miton both have until just before Christmas to confirm their takeover offers.
A deal with either contender is dependent on R&M’s planned deal – reportedly worth £230m, according to Sky News – with Schroders, which was announced in October, being completed.
Gilbert, an investment industry heavyweight, founded Aberdeen Asset Management in 1983 and helped to arrange the £11bn merger between Standard Life Investments and Aberdeen Asset Management in 2017, which led to the creation of Abrdn, one of the UK’s largest asset managers.
The well-known fund management veteran has continued his spree of acquisitions since April when he was named chair of AssetCo, which has since acquired Scottish asset management boutique Saracen Fund Managers.
AssetCo, originally a fire engine leasing group, is best known for successfully suing its former auditor, Grant Thornton, for over £20m over its failure to expose fraud at the company.
As Gilbert is also the deputy chair of River and Mercantile, he has recused himself from the company’s board while discussions about a deal take place, according to a statement by AssetCo.
Rival bidder Premier Miton said it had been assessing the merits of a merger, which would reportedly create a group with close to £20bn of assets, with R&M “for a period of time.”
The scale and cultural alignment between the companies would, Premier Miton said in a statement: “deliver a balanced and resilient business across a diversified product offering, enabling employees of the combined businesses to maximise their potential.”