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Liontrust multi-manager buy continues M&A strategy

2 July 2020

Liontrust Asset Management has acquired UK investment business Architas in a deal worth £75 million, as it seeks to expand its offering to advisers.

The deal, which includes the acquisition of Architas Multi-Manager and Architas Advisory Services from parent company Axa, will bring £5.6 billion assets under management and advice to Liontrust.

Liontrust’s total assets under management will increase to £25 billion following the sale, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Liontrust plans to merge its multi-asset investment team with the Architas UK Fund Management team. The newly combined team will be headed by Liontrust’s John Husslebee, with Architas’ Sheldon Macdonald appointed deputy head.

The purchase, which includes the Architas Multi-Asset Active, Blended and Passive Multi-Manager fund ranges along with the specialist and income funds, will create a “significant” multi-asset, multi-manager proposition with £6.6 billion in assets under management and advice, Liontrust said.

John Ions, chief executive, Liontrust, comments: “The Architas UK investment business is an important strategic acquisition for us to meet the growing demand for investment solutions from advisers and their clients over the next few years.

“Buying the Architas UK investment business will expand our distribution among financial advisers through the scale of the combined businesses, the strength of the merged investment team, the broad range of multi-asset multi-manager portfolios and funds and enhanced client service.

“Financial advisers are key clients for Liontrust because of the responsibility they have as guardians of people’s savings. By offering both risk profiled funds and target risk portfolios, we will help advisers to meet their suitability requirements by being able to choose the solution that best meets their clients’ individual needs for investment and risk.”

Matthieu Andre, CEO, Architas, says that while the decision to sell the business had been a difficult one, the deal agreed will enable the business to continue to “flourish”.

Andre says: “Financial advisers should be assured that there will be no change to the risk/reward objectives of the funds or the target risk investment methodology on the risk profiled fundsand no change to the unfettered investment philosophy of the funds.

“Our UK investment business has grown steadily over the past decade, which is a testament to the strength of our relationships with both financial advisers and clients, and a reflection of the passion and dedication of our staff. As such, the decision to sell has been a difficult one but is the best for this business to continue to flourish.

“We are confident that Liontrust, given their deep commitment to clients and their UK focus, is a great strategic and cultural fit for our UK investment business. Liontrust already occupies an excellent position in the UK with strong links to financial advisers, which the acquisition of our UK investment business will help to strengthen.”

Commenting on the deal, Darius McDermott, managing director, FundCalibre, adds: “It’s another decent sum of assets acquired by Liontrust into a now decent sized multi-asset team, which is very experienced under John Husselbee. Broadly it’s a continuation of the M&A strategy that Liontrust has (and continues to) execute strongly.”

Nik Lysiuk, Research Analyst at finnCap, says the purchase from AXA for up to £75m, would open new distribution channels and a larger and more broad client base for Liontrust, with the new multi-manager proposition amounting to £6.6bn of AUM.

“Liontrust continue to get things right,” Lysiuk says. “[Liontrust’s] statement puts a great deal of importance on the relationship with financial advisers, who will continue to be a major source of demand for fund management product, both as a result of the ongoing demand for financial advice and the long-term structural shift toward retail focussed flows over institutional. Shares have been on a tear, now close to all time highs, and the company deserve to be able to use its quality paper in an acquisition of this size.”

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