ASCENT Fund Services, a Singapore-headquartered independent global fund administration services provider, is actively seeking acquisitions or commercial partners to enter the Australian market, said co-founder Samuel Chen

The company is using Singapore-based corporate advisory and investor relations firm Spark Plus, which has also organized non-deal roadshows in Asia for more than 200 Australian and New Zealand businesses over the past three years, as its corporate advisor, Chen said. Spark Plus CEO and majority shareholder Omar Taheri also holds a seat on ASCENT’s board.

ASCENT, however, welcomes approaches from other advisors on the ground in Australia that can make introductions to potential targets or partners, Chen added, noting that it already has an active pipeline of potential targets.

Ideal targets or partners include companies that provide fund administration services like trustee and corporate services providers, custodians and prime brokers that can supplement ASCENT’s broad range of services, Chen said. Its offering includes middle office, directorship, corporate secretarial, accounting, audit, trust formation and foreign exchange services, as well as foreign account tax compliance, common reporting standard (CRS) and US tax reporting services, he noted.

ASCENT is also keen to partner with or acquire innovative technology firms in spaces like fund administration, corporate service and trust technology, and would also consider acquiring fund administrators with funds under administration of less than USD 10bn to secure infrastructure on the ground, Chen said.

ASCENT, which already has operations in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, and China, and plans to enter Abu Dhabi and the US in the future, is currently focused on entering Australia as it is an extremely attractive market, he said.

Australia is the world’s 13th largest economy by GDP, has a large fund management industry worth some AUD 1.6 trillion (USD 1.2 trillion), and serves as a significant hub for fund management deal flows into the APAC region, he elaborated, noting that ASCENT plans to set up operations in Sydney and Melbourne.

ASCENT, which has some USD 4bn in funds under administration and 36 staff globally, is revenue-generating and profitable, Chen said.
Founded in 2019 by Chen and Imran Assan, it provides customized solutions to about 100 funds including asset managers and family offices. It specialises in hedge, unit trust, fund of funds, Singapore Variable Capital Company (VCC), Limited Partnership (LP) and Venture Capital (VC) funds as well as managed accounts and REITS, Chen said.

ASCENT’s closest peers servicing the Australian market include Bermudabased Apex Fund Services, Mainstream Fund Services [ASX:MAI], SS&C Technologies [NASDAQ:SSNC] and Link Group [ASX:LNK], which received and rejected three takeover offers late last year, including a USD 3.6bn bid from SS&C, Chen said.
by Louise Weihart in Sydney
Published by Acuris Mergermarket (an ION Group company)