AJ Bell float rings up £140m for founder

Russell Lynch
Fund manager AJ Bell has pushed the button on a £500 million float: AFP/Getty Images

The eponymous founder of retail stockbroker and fund manager AJ Bell lined up a £140 million paper fortune on Thursday as the company pushed the button on a £500 million float.

AJ Bell, which was set up in 1995 by Andy Bell, now has £46.1 billion in assets under management and almost 200,000 customers. Alongside Bell’s windfall, the management and staff own a further 25%.

The initial public offering sees Bell cut his stake in the firm from 28% to 25% and a partial exit for biggest institutional investor Invesco, which bought in over a decade ago and reduces its holding from 44% to 25%.

No new money is being raised, although the move is being backed by City heavy-hitter Michael Spencer, who sold his NEX electronic trading business this year and is set to buy a 5% stake.

AJ Bell’s float comes after a turbulent period for markets, although the founder said this had not set back IPO plans, which first emerged this year.

The float was driven by a need to allow Invesco an exit and to raise the stockbroker’s profile, Bell added. “None of the management really wanted to sell a stake in the IPO although we do see the benefits of being a public company,” he said.

Profits were up 31% to £28.4 million in the year to September 30 for the business, which becomes a listed rival to giant Hargreaves Lansdown.

The firm, advised by Numis, is also preparing to allow its huge customer base to take part in the float. “Some of our customers have been with us for 23 years and to exclude them didn’t seem right,” he said.