The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an inquiry into the merger of platform Nucleus and self-invested personal pension (Sipp) provider Curtis Banks.
This comes seven months after Nucleus agreed to acquire Curtis Banks Group for a total equity value of £242m ($287m, €273m). The transaction, which is an all-cash offer, will bring together the Nucleus Group and the Curtis Banks Group to create a retirement-focused adviser platform with approximately £80bn of assets under administration.
On 19 July, UK watchdog the CMA said: “It is considering whether it is or may be the case that the transaction, if carried into effect, will result in the creation of a relevant merger situation under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002 and, if so, whether the creation of that situation may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.”
The CMA is inviting comments on the transaction from any interested party. These comments should be provided by 2 August 2023. The UK watchdog said that the deadline to announce its decision whether to refer the merger for a Phase 2 investigation is on 14 September 2023.
A spokesperson for Nucleus told International Adviser said: “We remain excited about our proposed acquisition of Curtis Banks and welcome the update from the CMA. We continue to collaboratively engage with the regulators as the conditions of the transaction are processed.”
IA also contacted Curtis Banks for a comment, but it did not reply in time for publication.
This publication has learned that Nucleus had proactively referred itself to the CMA, in a bid to involve watchdog before the deal is finalised as it tends to come in at a later point in a merger or acquisition, often post-completion.
The deal is expected to complete in Q3, subject to regulatory approvals. Shareholder approval was received on 27 February 2023