Appian sold to Gresham House in ‘transformational’ €10m deal

Dublin-based firm set up in 2002 by Patrick Lawless and manages assets of €330m

Dublin-based investment group Appian Asset Management said on Thursday it is to be acquired by UK-based specialist alternative asset manager Gresham House in a deal that values it at up to €10 million.

Appian was established in 2002 by chief executive Patrick Lawless, who is a key shareholder alongside Greg Lawless and Kevin Menton. The firm has about €330 million of assets under management, and operates a range of funds that invest globally across traditional and alternative asset classes including equities, property, infrastructure and forestry.

The sellers will receive an initial €4.55 million, with further payment subject to certain performance targets being met over the next three years. The deal is subject to approval by the Central Bank of Ireland.

Gresham House has more than £3.3 billion (€3.6 billion) in assets under management and is quoted on the London Stock Exchange.

Following the transaction, Mr Lawless will continue to lead the business in Ireland in the new role of managing director of Gresham House Ireland and will join the board of Gresham House Asset Management.

“This is a transformational deal for Appian and its staff. It is also very positive news for our valued and loyal client base,” said Mr Lawless. “It will enable us to offer an increased range of market-leading products to existing clients and to institutions and charities in Ireland.”

Regulatory costs

Consolidation in the Irish wealth management sector has been continuing apace in recent months, driven by rising compliance and regulatory costs.

Irish Life agreed earlier this month to buy wealth management advisory firm Harvest Financial Services for an undisclosed fee. Set up in 1993, Harvest Financial Services manages in excess of €1 billion in assets on behalf of 1,500 clients, including pension funds, private individuals, corporations and charities.

Elsewhere, the owners of stockbroker Goodbody are in exclusive talks to sell the business back to AIB. Kerry financial services group Fexco bought control of Goodbody a decade ago for €24 million as AIB was selling assets in the wake of the financial crash. Fexco currently owns 51 per cent of the business, with the rest in the hands of a group of managers and staff.

The Central Bank fined Appian Asset Management €443,000 in 2018 after the company left a client open to a cyberfraud by a third party, resulting in the loss of €650,000 of the client’s funds. The client was fully reimbursed.