Neil Woodford sold out of AJ Bell ahead of the adviser and D2C platform announcing plans to list on the London Stock Exchange, according to the Financial Times.
Woodford Investment Management told the FT the £6.8bn Equity Income fund sold its 8% stake in AJ Bell in February. The disposal, understood to have raised £40m, took place as Woodford suffered more than £1bn in redemptions from the flagship fund.
Assets under management in the fund have fallen from a £10.2bn high a year ago to £6.85bn today.
It was previously reported by Sky News the group planned to list in Q4 and yesterday (Sunday 11 March) the group said it had appointed Numis Securities to prepare an IPO at the end of 2018 or beginning of 2019.
The listing will include a retail share offer exclusively to AJ Bell's 172,000 customers.
Andy Bell, chief executive, 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 stockmarket 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 £42bn (as at 31 December 2017).
"Our highly profitable, proven model continues to deliver outstanding performance. In 2017, revenues grew 17% to £75.6m whilst our efficient operating model delivered a 29% growth in profit before tax to £21.7m.
"We were pleased to grow our dividend by 10%, equating to a 66% payout 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."
The group's two largest shareholders, CEO Bell and Invesco Perpetual, will both retain cornerstone shareholdings post-IPO.
In addition, AJ Bell announced the appointment of financial services analyst Eamonn Flanagan as non-executive director to the board. He has been director of Shore Capital Markets since it launched in 2003, specialising in the mid- to smaller-companies sector. He will continue to work with Shore Capital on an advisory basis.
Les Platts, chairman of AJ Bell, said: "This is an exciting time for the business as we prepare to list on the London Stock Exchange and Eamonn's knowledge will be a very valuable addition to our noard. In particular I believe Eamonn's experience will add value to our relations with current and future investors."
Flanagan added: "I am very excited to be joining the board of AJ Bell, a company I have followed with interest for many years. It is a well-run, high-growth business which has big ambitions for the future and I am looking forward to working with Andy and the rest of the team to help realise the significant growth opportunities that the company has."
The news follows rival Transact's parent IntegaFin's recent decision to float on the London Stock Exchange.
The platform took over the running of the £850m Scottish Investment Trust's 6,750 ISA and dealing accounts from its savings scheme. The platform was also one of few to launch a Lifetime ISA on its D2C platform last June.
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