Gilbert-backed AssetCo strikes £2.8m deal for Saracen Fund Managers

The deal-making company set up by former Standard Life Aberdeen co-chief executive Martin Gilbert has made its first outright acquisition, agreeing to buy Saracen Fund Managers for £2.8m.

The purchase comes after AssetCo, in which Gilbert and a handful of other heavyweight backers acquired a minority stake earlier this year, doubled its holding in River & Mercantile to 5.9%.

Gilbert teamed up with former colleague Peter McKellar, ToscaFund Asset Management and several other parties to acquire a 29.8% stake in AssetCo, which historically has been best-known as a provider of management and resources to the fire and emergency services.

Edinburgh-headquartered Saracen, which operates three funds and oversees approximately £120m, will continue to operate from Scotland following the deal, and keep its current branding.

Gilbert and AssetCo’s deputy chair McKellar will join the board of Saracen when the deal completes.

READ Martin Gilbert-backed AssetCo doubles stake in River & Mercantile

McKellar said: “Saracen is a small fund management firm with great potential. Its business model, people and product offering are its key assets and are an ideal fit for AssetCo.”

He added: “The industry is contending with multiple structural shifts, including demographics, fee compression and a greater focus on ESG. These are presenting challenges and opportunities for incumbent firms and we believe we can capitalise on this to help unlock value and to deliver for clients and investors.”

Graham Campbell, CEO of Saracen, said: “We’ve known Martin and Peter for some time and are excited about working with them to help grow Saracen’s three existing funds and to develop the overall business. Importantly the investment philosophy and team will remain the same.”

Gilbert, whose personal stake in AssetCo represents around 10%, earned a reputation as a prolific dealmaker when he was at the helm of Aberdeen Asset Management — the fund management business he co-founded in 1983.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email David Ricketts

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