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Four fund groups investigated under competition rules

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The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) says four UK fund management groups may have broken competition law, by disclosing the price they intended to pay for new Initial Public Offerings (IPOs).

IPOs are when a company’s shares are offered to the market for the first time. The process is supposed to be competitive, with different companies bidding for the shares to set the price.

The FCA has issued a ‘statement of objections’ to Artemis Investment Management, Hargreave Hale, Newton Investment Management and River & Mercantile Asset Management, alleging that the four firms shared information by disclosing the price they intended to pay, accepting such information, or both before share prices were set by the market.

The FCA said: “The sharing generally occurred on a bilateral basis and allowed firms to know the other’s plans during the IPO or placing process when they should have been competing for shares.”

Newton, Hargreave Hale and River & Mercantile are accused of disclosing and/or accepting information about the price they intended to pay for shares in relation to one IPO and a placing in 2015, while the accusation against Artemis relates to a separate 2014 IPO.

The FCA said the provisional findings “may not necessarily lead to an infringement decision” and all four firms will be given the opportunity to respond to the regulator.

All four groups have confirmed that they are co-operating with the regulator in its investigation. This is the first case the FCA is bringing using its competition enforcement powers.

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