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Change of ownership for Alliance Trust Savings: Exciting new future ahead

Updated 2 January 2019

On 22 October 2018, Alliance Trust PLC (“Alliance Trust”) announced that it has agreed the sale of its subsidiary company Alliance Trust Savings (ATS) to Interactive Investor (“ii”), the UK’s second largest investment platform. This doesn’t affect our service to you, which continues as normal.

The deal is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to take several months to complete. When it does we believe it will mark the start of an exciting new future for our customers, our intermediary partners and our business.

Commenting on the sale, Lord Smith of Kelvin, Alliance Trust PLC’s chairman said:

“The Board is pleased to announce the sale of ATS to Interactive Investor. The two businesses are highly complementary and ATS customers, many of whom are Alliance Trust shareholders, will benefit from Interactive Investor’s similar low flat-fee structure, as well as its increased scale and focus. A key consideration for the Board was a commitment to maintaining ATS' presence in Scotland. We are therefore very pleased that ii plans to invest in ATS’ Dundee operating centre.”

We will update here as the deal moves towards completion and, in the meantime, thank you as always for your ongoing and valued support.

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Questions and Answers

We understand that you may have questions about this deal and what it means for you.

Here we’ve put together answers to the most common questions being asked by our customers.


1. What is happening?

Alliance Trust Savings (ATS) is currently owned by Alliance Trust PLC. In October, Alliance Trust PLC announced the sale of ATS to interactive investor. The sale is still subject to regulatory approval but, once completed, the transaction will bring together the two largest flat fee retail investment platforms, combining the content and digital capabilities of interactive investor with ATS' well-established adviser business and its investment trust heritage.

2. Who is interactive investor and what is their financial position?

interactive investor, founded in 1995, is one of the leading UK investment platforms with a long history of providing investment information and online investing services. It also owns a range of investor publications, including Moneywise and Money Observer. The platform has recognised strengths in its technology-based services, including market news and discussion forums. interactive investor is committed to providing excellent customer service and great value for money. It has the backing of private equity firm JC Flowers, is 100% equity funded, with no external debt, and net assets of over £90m. interactive investor is producing consistent high-quality profits.

3. Why did interactive investor decide to buy ATS?

Combining interactive investor and ATS will create benefits of scale for the customers of both businesses. These include greater opportunities to invest in technology and to grow and develop services to help more customers make better informed investing decision. The deal will increase interactive investor’s assets under administration to £35bn and more than 400,000 customers. The two businesses are highly complementary as both have a similar low flat fee structure.

4. When will the sale of ATS complete?

The sale depends on regulatory approval from the FCA and PRA. This could take up to six months.

5. Will the ATS name change to interactive investor?

The transaction still has to complete, so there will be no immediate change. However, when regulatory approval is received, ATS customers will be migrated to interactive investor’s own platform over time and will become interactive investor customers.

6. Can ATS customers use interactive investor’s services from completion?

Not immediately. After completion of the sale, ATS customer Accounts will need to be moved on to the interactive investor platform before the services will become available. Until then, ATS customers will only be able to access their current ATS service.

7. How long will it take to fully integrate ATS into interactive investor?

It’s too early to say at this stage. However, interactive investor has a good track record of doing this – it successfully integrated TD Direct Investing in about eight months – but every acquisition is different.

You also need to consider the type of charging structure that suits you. While many platforms charge percentage Account fees based on the amount invested, others, like Alliance Trust Savings, levy flat Account fees. Flat fees tend to be more cost effective at larger Account sizes and the former if you’re investing more modest amounts.

How much trading you plan to do can also have a bearing, since dealing charges can potentially add up if you expect to be managing your investments very actively.

8. If I want to move my Account from ATS before the sale completes, will ATS apply a transfer out charge?

Yes. Any transfer out prior to regulatory approval will incur the ATS transfer out charge. Please see the ATS Charges Guides for details.

9. Will interactive investor make any changes to the way ATS operates?

Until the deal receives regulatory approval, there are no changes to your ATS service or the way you log in and trade. You can continue to manage your investments in exactly the same way.

10. Will pricing change for ATS customers? Will interactive investor maintain ATS’ flat fees at the same level or will there be changes to the way I am charged?

Until the deal receives regulatory approval, there will be no changes to the current ATS charges. However, interactive investor is the largest retail flat fee provider in the UK, and says that ATS customers will get as good as, if not better terms.

Fees paid for financial advice will always add to the overall costs of transferring, but a professional can help you save far more over the long run.

11. What impact will this deal have on interactive investor customers?

There will be no immediate change for interactive investor customers. They do not need to take any action.

12. Are there any differences between what ATS offers and interactive investor’s existing offering?

ATS and interactive investor are very complementary businesses. Both offer a full range of Account options (ISAs, SIPPs, Investment Accounts) as well as online trading in a broad choice of investment options, including funds, equities and investment trusts. Full details of each can be found on our websites – alliancetrustsavings.co.uk and ii.co.uk.

13. How safe are my assets?

As FCA regulated businesses, both ATS and interactive investor are both covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). You can visit fscs.org.uk for more details on how your assets are protected.

14. I hold shares in Alliance Trust PLC. Will I still be able to vote at and attend the Alliance Trust PLC AGM?

Yes, interactive investor will continue to facilitate your attendance and voting at Alliance Trust PLC shareholder meetings. It will also ensure you receive the same shareholder circulars, although you can additionally choose to receive factsheets, newsletters and other communications directly from Alliance Trust PLC by signing up for them on www.alliancetrust.co.uk.

15. Will the business continue to operate from Dundee?

Yes. Once the transaction receives regulatory approval, interactive investor plans to invest in ATS’ Dundee operating centre.

16. I use the Stocktrade service, what does the change mean for me?

Until the transaction receives regulatory approval, there will be no change in the Stocktrade services provided by ATS.

17. What communications will I receive from ATS and/or interactive investor?

We will keep you informed at every stage.

18. Will my Account be moved from the ATS system? If so, can I expect an interruption of service?

interactive investor has confirmed that shortly following regulatory approval, the intention is to move all ATS customer accounts on to the interactive investor platform. It’s worth noting that they have an excellent track record of integrating new customers from other platforms. Recent research by Investment Trends observed that the interactive investor/TD integration prompted no disruption.

19. Is interactive investor committed to the Advised Channel?

Until the transaction is complete it is too early to go into details, but interactive investor is a growth business and the IFA and partnership businesses offer an opportunity for interactive investor to expand.

20. Will my client Accounts be migrated from the ATS system/Composer systems?

Until the transaction is complete it is too early to confirm any plans.

21. When will Account migration take place and will there be blackout periods?

Until the transaction is complete it is too early to confirm any plans.

22. Will I need to negotiate new agreements with interactive investor or will my existing arrangements remain?

At this stage there will be no changes for customers of interactive investor or ATS and we will keep you informed at every stage.

23. Will I need to agree to a new rate card with interactive investor or will my existing arrangements remain?

At this stage there will be no changes for customers of interactive investor or ATS and we will keep you informed at every stage.

24. Will there be any changes to customer service?

No. Both ATS and interactive investor are committed to delivering excellent customer service and will continue to improve your service through the combination of our experience and expertise.

25. Can I open a new Account with ATS?

Yes. It’s business as usual for ATS and they will continue to welcome new customers and existing customers who want to open additional Accounts.

26. I have Accounts with both ATS and interactive investor – what will happen to them?

There will be no changes to either your ATS or interactive investor Accounts for now. The way you login and trade on each service remains the same. When the deal completes, interactive investor will move all customers onto a single platform.

27. Can I transfer assets between ATS and interactive investor now?

If you would like to transfer assets between ATS and interactive investor Accounts before the transaction is complete, you can do so but ATS’s standard transfer out fees apply. Please see the ATS Charges Guide for details.

28. I no longer want my ATS Account, can I close it?

If you want to close your ATS Account and transfer your assets now you can do so but charges will apply. Please see the ATS Charges Guide for details.

We hope though that you’ll want to stay with us as we’re confident that our combined businesses will offer you better choice, opportunity and always at a fairer price.

29. What improvements to services can I expect?

When the transaction is complete, interactive investor will bring all customers together on a single investing platform that combines the strengths of each service. It will allow greater opportunities to invest in technology and to grow and develop services to help more customers make better informed investing decisions.

30. What is interactive investor’s ambition for the combined business?

interactive investor is confident that the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts, and that combining our individual strengths creates an opportunity to grow strongly and develop new services to help more customers make better investing decisions. interactive investor’s vision is to build the best UK retail investment platform for engaged investors who want to control their investments. This is ongoing, but some areas of focus include interactive investor’s independent content, the mobile app and its international trading services. Richard Wilson, CEO of interactive investor commented: "This is another important step in our ambition to build the UK's best investment platform. The acquisition brings together the country's two largest fixed price providers, adding significant scale to interactive investor, and reinforcing our ability to deliver excellent choice, value and service to all our customers."

31. What if I have further questions?

We encourage you to check back to this page as we will look to update this regularly with frequently asked questions we receive.

abstract image of Alliance Trust Building

This is provided for general information only and to solely support you in making your own investment decisions. It is not a recommendation to buy or sell.

Please be aware that the value of investments can fall as well as rise so you could get back less than you invest.

Alliance Trust Savings Limited is a subsidiary of Alliance Trust PLC and is registered in Scotland No. SC 98767, registered office, PO Box 164, 8 West Marketgait, Dundee DD1 9YP; is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority, firm reference number 116115. Alliance Trust Savings gives no financial or investment advice.