Finance

Abrdn set for FTSE 100 return following share price rally


Abrdn, the Edinburgh-headquartered asset manager, is set to return to the UK’s premier listing of UK companies following a more than two month share price rally.

The £508bn firm was jettisoned from the FTSE 100 at the end of August after a prolonged fall in its share price and market capitalisation meant it was no longer eligible for inclusion.

However, Abrdn stock has experienced a rally since its exit from the list of the UK’s 100 biggest listed firms, rising 35% since the start of September, buoying its market capitalisation to £4.1bn.

FTSE Russell, which oversees the UK’s FTSE 100 and 250 indexes, said on 22 November it expected Abrdn to return to the top tier when a rebalance occurs at the end of November.

While Abrdn shares have risen since its demotion to the FTSE 250, they are down almost 20% since the start of the year. The firm remains among the top 10 most-shorted UK companies.

READ Abrdn CEO Stephen Bird: ‘I’m very respectful … But I’m very challenging, and I should be’

BlackRock, Point72 Asset Management and Citadel Advisors are among big name investors betting its share price will fall.

Abrdn chief executive Stephen Bird told Financial Newsin a recent interview that he stood by his strategy to turn around the asset manager, which in July announced a £320m loss for the first half of the year.

Bird, who is entering his third year as CEO, has implemented major changes as the business shifts its focus to three key areas: investments, advisers and personal wealth.

The strategy has involved a series of acquisitions, including a landmark £1.5bn deal in December last year to acquire Interactive Investor — one of the UK’s largest retail investment platforms with more than 400,000 clients.

Abrdn also announced a £300m share buyback in July.

“We’ve got still more to give back to shareholders. Year three will be very much evidence of what this new Abrdn stands for,” Bird told FN earlier this month.

“[Shareholders] will get rewarded with buybacks and people will say they can understand what this jigsaw was about. That’s my mission.”

An October note by Autonomous Research double upgraded Abrdn shares to outperform, setting a target price of 210p and describing the group as “a platform business now, not just an old-fashioned asset manager”.

However, other analysts are still unconvinced.

David McCann, an analyst with Numis Securities, said in a recent research note that a “more radical strategy is needed to turn the group around and to maximise value”, such as breaking it up. He said Abrdn was “worth more dead than alive”.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email David Ricketts

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