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Sunday, Mar 03, 2024

Abu Dhabi-backed Apex in talks about bid for stricken MJ Hudson

Abu Dhabi-backed Apex in talks about bid for stricken MJ Hudson

Apex Group is in advanced talks about an agreed takeover of crisis-hit MJ Hudson Group with an announcement expected next week.
A financial services giant backed by an Abu Dhabi sovereign fund is in advanced talks about a takeover of MJ Hudson Group, the struggling London-listed asset management services provider.

Sky News has learned that Apex Group is in detailed negotiations with MJ Hudson's board about a formal offer for the company, weeks after emerging as a suitor to buy a number of its divisions.

City sources said on Friday that an agreement between the two sides could be announced as early as next week.

Apex Group, which is based in Bermuda and has 12,000 employees, provides services to $3trn of client assets.

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

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

Apex had expressed an interest in acquiring the bulk of MJ Hudson's operations - excluding its legal services arm - but recently switched its attention to an offer for the whole company, the insider said.

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

Its shares were suspended, and its auditor, EY, resigned after less than 18 months, citing a lack of confidence in management.

Founder Matthew Hudson resigned last month.

The company has also parachuted in an interim finance chief following an announcement that it had suspended Peter Connell, the former chief financial officer.

MJ Hudson, which floated on London's junior stock market on the day of the 2019 general election, is an asset management consultancy which advises on issues such as sustainability and helping clients to benchmark themselves against their competitors.

In December, it announced that its shares were being suspended after being made "aware of…issues, including in relation to the reporting of historical trading of the business in relation to [fiscal year] 2022, the full impact of which is unclear".

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

It added more recently that it had also appointed external accounting advisers to assist it "in achieving the necessary clarity to enable the year end FY 2022 reporting to be completed".

MJ Hudson's shares were suspended at 13.13p, leaving it with a market value of just £26.7m - down two-thirds on a year earlier.

The company had received other takeover interest in a number of its operations from the likes of Hawksford, With Intelligence, which is owned by the investment firm Intermediate Capital Group (ICG), and Inflexion Private Equity.

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

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

Apex and MJ Hudson both declined to comment.
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