The deal has been approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and is expected to be completed over the coming week, according to a statement released by Easton this afternoon to the Australian exchange. Easton is paying S$1.2m ($970,000, £617,000) in cash plus 781,250 ordinary shares of Easton stock.
AAM Advisory is described in the statement as one of the three largest players in the Singapore expatriate advisory market, with some S$250m in assets under advice.
In its statement, Easton noted that Australian expatriates living in Singapore – of whom there are estimated to be more than 20,000 – stand to be among the key beneficiaries of the new arrangement, as they “can now expect a complete and seamless service from offshore to onshore”.
Easton managing director Campbell McComb called AAM “a strong business in its own right, as well as being a fantastic complement to our existing businesses” in the company’s Easton Wealth Asia subsidiary, through which it is acquiring AAM Advisory.
AAM chief executive Matthew Dabbs said the company’s executives and staff were “delighted” with the Easton investment in their business, which he said would benefit from the “greater resources” of its new, listed Australian partner.
AAM Advisory is located on Robinson Road in the heart of Singapore’s financial district, where it employs some 19 advisers and another 31 in support staff, who look after approximately 1,500 mostly expatriate clients.
The company took its present form in 2009, following a buyout of 50% of the shares of the business’s previous owners, a franchise holder in Singapore of the global accountancy firm, PKF. The financial advisory arm was then known as PKF-AAM. At that time, a number of advisers from a rival Singapore-based advisory firm, Professional Investment Advisory Services (PIAS), came to AAM, including Nick Anderson, who remains a director and shareholder of AAM Advisory.
Coincidentally, as reported, UK insurance giant Aviva is in the process of acquiring around 81% of the holding company which owns PIAS from the listed Australian company that has held it since the end of 2010. Aviva already owned the other 19% of PIAS.
In addition to drawing talent from PIAS, AAM has recruited key staff from a number of other local rivals, including Affinity Consulting (director Lee Sanders) and Globaleye (director Simon Bird). U-Bond Wong, another AAM Advisory director, came from PIAS with Anderson.
Easton Investments was founded in 2005 as Equities and Freeholds Ltd, changing its name last August as part of its acquisition of an Asia-focussed, Australia-based investment manager known as Easton Asset Management.
It describes itself as an “integrated wealth management business with Australian and Asian distribution capability [and] Asian and Australian funds management capabilities”.
In the year to the end of June, the company posted a net loss after tax of A$1.5m, on revenue of A$2.75m, up from A$1.8m in the previous year.
In a statement in its annual report, Easton Investments noted that the loss was in line with expectations, given that the business is still in its “establishment phase” of development.
The company’s Easton Wealth Asia subsidiary, of which the AAM Advisory stake is now a part, is described as investing in wealth advisory and investment management firms that it identifies as “having the talent, drive and vision to become significant contributors within the financial services industry”.