Blacktower expands into fund management with acquisition of Malta-based Libero

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International financial advisory firm Blacktower signalled its intent to move into the fund management sphere with its acquisition of Malta-based fund Libero from Old Mutual/Quilter Cheviot.

Technically, a SICAV — an open-ended collective investment scheme that is used extensively in Western Europe and typically also described as the European equivalent of the American open-ended mutual fund — Libero presently has in excess of £120m of funds under management.

Blacktower indicated that it expects this to “grow significantly”, while Blacktower group managing director John Westwood (pictured left) said that this was just the first step in developing a fund management aspect to the group’s business.

He said that he believes Blacktower is the first international adviser and network provider to offer “an EU-compliant fund management umbrella structure” into the global market.

Libero’s private client investment portfolios are presently branded as Nexus.

Bespoke offering to other FAs

Westwood added that he was hopeful of speaking to other advisers about offering Libero products to them for re-badging with their own brand and personalising to offer to their client base. He said: “Part of our plan is to make the SICAV available to likeminded advisory businesses who may wish to offer to their clients their own bespoke UCITS portfolios”.

He pointed out that the SICAV is structured in such a way that it permits a “wide range of discretionary fund management” options.

Westwood expanded on the offer to third-party advisers, making it clear that the offer was more than simply off-the-shelf or a flag of convenience, saying “Our SICAV structure will supply bespoke facilities, enabling advisers to design and develop their own UCITS funds”.

Those advisers would be guided through the process by Libero, he said: “Nexus Asset Advisers will assist advisers through the whole design, set-up and regulatory process”.

Quilter Cheviot chief executive Martin Baines described the role of his company and Old Mutual as “having assisted with the launch of the SICAV”. In a statement, he talked of “the progress of the plan for Blacktower Group to take control and expand its market offering” suggesting that this move had been some time in the planning.