Standard Life to pay £42m for software group

Standard Life is to buy an Aim-traded financial services software company for £42m in cash, its third technology acquisition in just over a year as part of
the Edinburgh-based savings group’s efforts to add to its sales channels.

Focus Solutions, which floated in 2000 after being spun out from AT&T in 1995, provides software that lets financial advisers and banks see a complete view of all of the accounts and services used by individual clients.

The deal values Focus at 140p a share – a premium of 33.3 per cent to the 105p closing price on November 8, the day before Focus said it was in takeover talks.

Standard Life has recently bought Vebnet, a workplace distribution platform for savings and benefits products, and threesixty, which provides technology services to independent financial advisers.

The three deals are part of Standard Life’s attempts to prepare for the Retail Distribution Review, which will overhaul the way in which savings and pension products are sold mainly by removing all hidden commissions and making advisors charge clients separately and upfront for financial advice.

“Consistent with our previous acquisitions of Vebnet and threesixty, the acquisition of Focus Solutions provides further capability in providing support, technology and innovation to our core markets and customers,” David Nish, chief executive of Standard Life, said.

Focus Solutions will transfer its corporate client base which includes HSBC, St James’s Place and Barclays, as well as independent financial advisers, to Standard Life.

It will continue to operate and seek external customers independently of Standard Life.

Standard Life funds under administration total £192bn. It has 6m customers globally, many of them in India, Hong Kong and China.

Standard Life’s shares rose 0.8 per cent to 206p.

Focus shares were up 7.3 per cent to 136¾p.

Separately, Focus re-ported a tenfold increase in interim pre-tax profits to £1.1m on revenues of £5.4m, up from £4.3m the previous year. It had a positive cash balance of £1.05m, down from £2.5m a year ago.

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