Diverger deal is ‘the start not the end’: Count

14 November 2023
| By Laura Dew |
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Count has indicated the Diverger acquisition will not be its last as chief executive, Hugh Humphrey, says the firm has “firepower” to make more in the future.

The Diverger acquisition is expected to complete in February 2024 and is supported by Diverger’s largest shareholder HUB24, the combined firm will be Australia's third-largest licensee behind Insignia and AMP.

This is despite a rival bid for Diverger from COG Financial Services to acquire 100 per cent of the firm. It proposed to acquire all of the Diverger shares on issue for $1.4083 per share with $0.679 in cash per Diverger share (48 per cent) and $0.731 in COG shares (52 per cent).

Diverger stated it favoured the Count offer and Humphrey said Count has a matching right to match the offer of any superior bids. 

Speaking to Money Management, Humphrey said the Diverger acquisition is “not the end” of the firm’s acquisition plans.

“We have left headroom in the business to make other acquisitions. We have been doing one every five weeks at the current rate.

“Our firepower will be the same [after the Diverger deal]. It won’t change our M&A activity. We are positioned well to explore ongoing opportunities. We have the cash and lending facility to continue with acquisitions and have a significant pipeline.

“We have identified ourselves as a leader in aggregation, so this is the start not the end.”

As well as the deal with Diverger, Count acquired Affinia from TAL earlier this year which created a combined business with 400 advisers and $17 billion in funds under administration, representing 3,500 clients.

As part of this, it has seen the Count AFSL network expand with Tribel Advisory moving over from the Affinia AFSL to the Count one followed by Melbourne-based Vista Financial Group, both taking place in October. 

In May, Humphrey stated he could envisage the Count business being made up of large firms that offered clients both accountants and advisory services on investment, super and risk.

“We are already overwhelmed with client demand for advice and are assessing how fast we can meet those needs while still growing sensibly. Even with the Affinia growth, there are still more people who need advice than we can service. 

“Hopefully the Quality of Advice Review will be implemented and that will deliver benefits to the industry.”

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