AJ Bell shares take off on market debut

Shares in AJ Bell rocketed on their first day of trading as the investment firm was valued at £651 million.

The group confirmed last month that it would press ahead with the initial public offering, floating a 27% stake, and this week set its offer price at 160p per share.

But buoyant investors sent shares up more than 30% to 213p in morning trade.

🎉🎉🎉🎉 pic.twitter.com/LjStMtSJiW

— AJ Bell (@AJBellGroup) December 7, 2018

Boss and founder Andy Bell said: “The IPO is a significant milestone for the business and I see it as firing the starting gun on our next phase of growth, which I’m massively excited about leading the business through.

“The demand for our IPO from both blue chip institutions and our own customers was a real endorsement of our business and the market opportunities that lie ahead of us, and I’m pleased to welcome our new shareholders on board.”

Market volatility and Brexit fears have resulted in several disappointing London listings in recent months but, undeterred, AJ Bell said it believes this to be an “appropriate time to bring the group to the public market”.

At a £651 million valuation, founder Mr Bell’s 28% stake is worth around £180 million and he has trimmed his holding to 25%.

Invesco, which holds a 44% stake, has sold down its holding to 25% following the IPO.

AJ Bell’s 750 staff are also set to pocket more than £2 million between them as a result of the listing, which raised £169.3 million.

Last year AJ Bell reported revenues of £89.7 million, up 19%, and profit before tax up 31% to £28.4 million.