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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Abu Dhabi-backed Apex in talks to bid for stricken Jordan Hudson

A financial services giant backed by an Abu Dhabi sovereign fund is in advanced talks to buy struggling London-listed asset management provider MJ Hudson Group.

Sky News has learned that Apex Group is in detailed talks with MJ Hudson’s board about a formal bid for the company, weeks before becoming a suitor for several of its divisions.

Sources in the city said on Friday that the two sides could announce a deal as early as next week.

Headquartered in Bermuda, Apex Group has 12,000 employees servicing $3 trillion in client assets.

It is partly owned by Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, and private equity firms Carlyle and TA Associates.

One insider said that while the talks were at an advanced stage, they could still fall apart.

Apex had expressed interest in buying most of MJ Hudson’s business — excluding its legal services division — but has recently turned its attention to an offer for the entire company, people familiar with the matter said.

MJ Hudson, which provides a range of services to asset management groups, has been in crisis in recent months after an accounting review uncovered details of loans guaranteed by its chief executive to subsidiaries of the firm.

Trading in its shares was suspended and its auditor, Ernst & Young, resigned less than 18 months later, citing a lack of confidence in management.

Founder Matthew Hudson resigned last month.

The company also parachuted in an interim treasurer after announcing the suspension of former chief financial officer Peter Connell.

Listed on London’s primary stock market on the day of the 2019 general election, MJ Hudson is an asset management consultancy advising on issues such as sustainability and helping clients compare themselves to their competitors.

In December, it announced that its stock was “aware of … issues, including with reports and [fiscal year] In 2022, the full impact is not yet known”.

MJ Hudson had warned investors in October that it was in discussions with auditors to adjust its full-year figures.

It added recently that it has also appointed external accounting advisers to assist it “to achieve the necessary clarity to be able to complete its FY2022 end-of-year reporting”.

MJ Hudson’s shares were suspended at 13.13p, giving it a market capitalization of just £26.7m – down two-thirds from a year ago.

The company has also received other interest in several of its businesses from Hawksford, investment firm Intermediate Capital Group’s (ICG) With Intelligence and Inflexion Private Equity, among others.

Last week it announced the sale of its UK asset management business to Khepri Limited for £1m.

Professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) has been handling the sale process, while Apex has been advised by Rothschild.

Apex and MJ Hudson both declined to comment.

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