City veteran Martin Gilbert swoops on investment firm SVM


City veteran Martin Gilbert swoops on investment firm SVM in latest addition to his new business empire

City veteran Martin Gilbert has swooped on investment firm SVM Asset Management in the latest addition to his new business empire AssetCo.

Gilbert, 66, who founded what has now become Abrdn before stepping down in 2020, snapped up Edinburgh-based SVM for £10.7million.

The deal will generate a windfall for SVM’s founders, husband-and-wife duo Colin McLean and Margaret Lawson, who set the business up in 1990 and have known Gilbert for more than 30 years. 

Martin Gilbert (pictured), who founded what has now become Abrdn before stepping down in 2020, snapped up Edinburgh-based SVM for £10.7m

Together they own the majority of the business along with their family trust and stand to make several million pounds on paper.

Much of their wealth could be tied up in AssetCo, which is paying for SVM in so-called loan notes. 

The notes will either be paid out in cash in 2023, or can be converted into shares in the newly enlarged business if McLean and Lawson choose to do so.

McLean, 69, will stay on for the time being as a director of AssetCo’s Scottish business, while Lawson, 62, will continue to manage SVM’s UK equity funds. 

Gilbert said: ‘I have known Colin and Margaret for over 30 years, and I am delighted that both have agreed to remain with SVM.

‘Both have built phenomenal reputations as investment managers over many decades in the industry.’ 

He added that one of the reasons behind the pair selling the business was to allow them an easier route to retirement when they decide to leave.

Gilbert is a well-known name in the investment world.

He co-founded Aberdeen Asset Management in 1983 before merging it with Standard Life in 2017. 

The combined firm is now known as Abrdn. 

But after stepping down in 2020, he started from scratch again. 

He bought AssetCo, which was essentially a shell of a company left on the London Stock Exchange, and converted it into his new empire, buying investment firms in an industry ripe for consolidation.

He has so far scooped up the likes of River & Mercantile and Saracen Fund Managers.

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