Austock remains open on future of life business
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Kate Kachor is a journalist with InvestorDaily, a Morningstar publication.
Austock Group (ACK) remains open to a potential alignment or transaction of its life business unit, the company's independent non-executive chairman has said.
In a letter to shareholders, Austock's George Beaumont said parties have shown interest in the life business, but at this stage no agreement has been reached.
"To date, whilst there has been interest shown in the Austock Life business and there have been preliminary discussions with several parties, no agreements have been reached, nor is there any certainty that there will be," Beaumont said in the letter sent to shareholders yesterday.
"Directors expect to continue to seek ways to enhance shareholder value but at this stage cannot say when, or if, any transaction will result. In the meantime, the company will continue to pursue growth of the Austock Life business."
In August, Austock said the company's life business had grown solidly in the difficult post-global financial crisis market and had increased its funds under management over the last two years from $175 million to $300 million.
At the time, company directors confirmed they would continue to "review any proposal that may see Austock aligned with other financial services groups or can enhance value".
In line with this move, the company used the letter to inform shareholders that Austock directors have commenced an on-market buyback of up to 27 million shares.
Austock announced its intention to undertake an on-market buyback following the sale of its property funds management business to Folkestone (FLK).
The company has appointed BBY Limited to act on its behalf in relation to the buyback, Beaumont said.
"The purpose of the buyback is to provide liquidity to those shareholders who choose not to await the outcome of this review process," he said.
Earlier this month, Folkestone completed the acquisition of Austock's property funds management business.
Under the arrangement, Austock Group will retain a minority interest in the business for up to 12 months.
The property funds management business includes Austock Property Management (APM), which has now changed its name to Folkestone Investment Management (FIM).
Staff and management of Austock's property business have joined Folkestone, with the existing board of APM set to make up the FIM board.