Praemium seen likely to invest more in UK pensions market after ‘record inflows’

Shares in Praemium, the ASX-listed, Melbourne-based platform services provider, hit a record high today after the company said its fourth-quarter platform inflows were the highest ever, with its international business particularly strong. 

Praemium chief executive Michael Ohanessian was quoted in the Australian press as saying the results will likely see the company  looking to invest further in the UK pensions market.

As reported, Praemium acquired UK SIPP provider Wensley Mackay Ltd in 2016.

In a statement posted on the website of the Australian Securities Exchange this morning, Praemium said combined gross inflows in the three months to the end of December totalled A$764m (US$598.7m, £442.6m), of which A$216m came from its international business, which it noted was the “highest on record” for the international operation.

For the full year, gross inflows grew by 54% to A$2.55bn, helped by a half year to the end of December that was “particularly strong, with a step-change in inflows of $1.5bn”, the company said.

“The momentum in our business continues to build,” Premium chief executive Michael Ohanessian noted in comments accompanying the results.

“The imminent full release of international securities for the Australia SMA will be an important accelerator, with several prospective clients already looking to use the service.”

Ohanessian said Praemium had “continued to invest in growth through the second half of 2017”, boosting its headcount in its research and development and sales and marketing by 20% and 15% respectively, and is planning “further investments in client-facing people in 2018”.

Preparing Praemium’s international platform services for Europe’s MiFID II regulations, he noted, had been “a massive undertaking” but had been achieved in time for the January deadline.

Among other Q4 developments highlighted in the ASX statement were the launch of international securities on Praemium’s Australia SMA platform, and the addition of 16 new model portfolios to the Praemium SMA from Shaw and Partners, Joseph Palmer, State Street and Evans & Partners.

Praemium was founded in 2001 in Australia by Arthur Naodoumidis, a former IT consultant, and listed on the ASX in May, 2006. In addition to Australia, it maintains offices in Jersey, Hong Kong and the UK, where it has been present since 2008.

A key part of the business are its separately-managed investment accounts; it says it currently has more than 300,000 active investor accounts, in addition to looking after more than 800 financial institution clients.

Ohanessian returned to Praemium in May after having been ousted in February, following what one Australian newspaper referred to at the time as a shareholder “bunfight”. He first joined the company in 2011.

Shares touch A$0.81

Praemium shares leapt in early trading this morning, touching A$0.81 a share before ending the day at A$0.77, a 4% gain from Tuesday’s close. This is approximately 64% more than they closed at a year ago, and almost 12 times the A$0.06 they were trading at in January 2013.

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