AJ Bell in exclusive talks to buy Cofunds

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AJ Bell has agreed a four week exclusivity period in its bid to acquire Legal & General-owned platform Cofunds’ retail arm, Money Marketing understands.

The deal means only AJ Bell will be able to negotiate over the terms of an acquisition during the period.

One of the options being discussed is L&G taking shares in AJ Bell following the sale, which will see the platform carved up into retail and institutional divisions, Money Marketing understands.

However, it is not clear whether AJ Bell would be willing to pursue this option.

L&G’s interim results – published in August – show Cofunds’ assets are split roughly in half. At the end of June 2015, there were £37.9bn of retail assets, and £36.7bn of institutional assets.

L&G, Cofunds and AJ Bell declined to comment.

In July, Money Marketing revealed the Cofunds sale was sparked by a decision to replatform its technology to Bravura.

Cofunds is currently powered by IFDS and has been considering its options ahead of IFDS’ contract ending in 2017. It is understood Bravura’s new Sonata system had been selected to replace IFDS, but the costs associated with the move prompted L&G to begin the sale process.

The project to replatform Cofunds to Bravura is expected to cost tens of millions of pounds.

In March 2013 L&G purchased the remaining 75 per cent of Cofunds it did not already over for £131m. The insurer took the 25 per cent stake in the platform in 2005.