Manchester-based investment platform AJ Bell said it appointed Numis Securities to explore an initial public offering (IPO) of AJ Bell on the main market of the London Stock Exchange — a move that analysts said could value the company at around £500 million.
The IPO would include a retail share offer available to AJ Bell customers and is expected to take place towards the end of 2018 or early 2019.
AJ Bell said it does not intend to raise new capital as part of the IPO.
The firm’s two largest shareholders, co-founder and chief executive Andy Bell and Invesco Perpetual, will both retain “cornerstone” shareholdings post-IPO.
Bell said: “These are exciting times for our business.
“Over the last 22 years we have built a multi-award winning and easy to use investment platform that is the engine room of a fast growing and profitable business.
“An IPO is a natural next step in our journey and will provide a further boost to our future growth through the increased profile a stock market listing will give us.
“We believe the outlook for our business is extremely positive.
“The need for people to save and invest for their future has never been stronger and we are making it easier for them to do that.
“Our focus on the needs of our customers has resulted in assets invested via our platform increasing by 26% a year on average over the last five years, with total assets under administration hitting £42 billion.
“Our highly profitable, proven model continues to deliver outstanding performance.
“In 2017 revenues grew 17% to £75.6 million whilst our efficient operating model delivered a 29% growth in profit before tax to £21.7 million.
“We were pleased to grow our dividend by 10%, equating to a 66% pay-out ratio.
“Our profitable operations are supported by a strong, debt-free balance sheet and give us a secure platform from which to realise our growth ambitions.
“We now have 172,000 customers and I want them to be able to share in our success by giving them exclusive access to the offer.”