M&G has sunk just under £4 million into WH Ireland shares to take a 12.4% stake in the beleaguered business, as it raised £2,000,000 from the stock market at a 4.7% discount to yesterday’s close price.
It was not immediately apparent which M&G manager had placed the trade, and the Reuters’ shareholder register had not updated reflect the buy.
At the time of publication an M&G spokesperson had not returned a request for comment.
At the same time, opportunity-driven investment firm Oceanwood upped its stake in WH Ireland from 17.8% of shares to 25.5% and its largest holder, hedge fund Polygon Global, increased its stake from 27.6% to 29.3%.
Shares in WH Ireland were 3.5% lower by late morning at 102.5p, just above the issue price of 100p.
In a statement, WH Ireland said that the cash raised would ensure that the business had the resources to meet its regulated capital adequacy requirements.
In February WH Ireland had previously raised £2.4 million in new equity saying the funds were necessary to meet capital adequacy rules.
Company chair Tim Steel (pictured) said: ‘We greatly appreciate the support of our major shareholders Polygon and Oceanwood and we welcome our new institutional shareholder M&G to the company. We look forward to a strong partnership with all our shareholders as we develop the business going forward.’
In a trading update issued in July the business noted that the wealth management division, on which it had pinned its hopes for future growth, ‘has borne higher costs than anticipated’.
It added: ‘These costs primarily relate to the outsourcing of our custody and operational functions and legacy issues which have taken longer to resolve than anticipated.’ The business reported a loss of £1.6 million in the 16 months to April.
That was rapidly followed by the shock departure of chief executive Richard Killingbeck (pictured) who had led a turnaround strategy at the company over the previous six years. His exit followed the departure of wealth head Roddy Buchanan over a difference of opinion on the firm's strategic direction.
Killingbeck was superseded by Philip Wale, who joined the business from Cantor Fitzgerald Europe, having previously headed Panmure Gordon.
News of the purchases coincided with news that three Kuwaiti investors, Thamer Al-Wazzan, Abdulaziz Al-Bader, Waleed Al-Thaqeb, no longer had an interest in the business.
The three had in July taken over the 23.1% stake in the company previously held by its then second largest shareholder, investment company Kuwaiti European Holding Group, which had put £8.45 million into WH Ireland in 2016.