Shares in the emerging market asset manager jumped as much as 7% on the open after a Financial Times story citing unnamed sources said CEO Martin Gilbert had made informal approaches to sound out potential buyers following a period of under performance. The shares were trading around 3.7% higher in mid-morning.
A spokesperson for Aberdeen said: “In his 32 years running Aberdeen, Martin Gilbert has never approached anyone, formally or informally, about buying the business.”
A flash note on Sunday by RBC Capital Markets dismissed the article, saying it believes no sale process is underway, as it would be “surprised if Aberdeen sold from a position of weakness, which we believe it is currently in.”
“The article states the obvious – that Aberdeen is in a weak position, hampered by ongoing net outflows that are having an adverse impact on profitability. We believe that selling now would be an admission of failure, and that a potential buyer would clearly understand the challenges that Aberdeen is facing and reflect that in its determination of value for the company,” it said.
Another, albeit, lesser consideration, is the sheer number of acquisitions the firm has been doing recently. Taking on integration risk would seem slightly odd strategy if at the same time one is looking to sell.
That said, the firm has seen significant outflows in recent months, as investors have continued to remain wary of emerging markets. The firm announced in a trading update for the nine months to end June, 2015 that it saw £9.9bn in net outflows during the latest quarter as “as institutional investors continue to reduce exposure to Asia and emerging markets equities.”