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Who will ultimately own which AFSL? Watch this space

Mike Taylor20 November 2023
Falling playing cards


In the space of less than a week the ownership make-up of three significant financial planning licensees altered generating potential impacts of around 2,000 advisers.

The ownership changes/shareholdings related to Australian Unity and Centrepoint Alliance while Count Limited lifted the amount it is prepared to pay to fully acquire Diverger.

Fortnum and Paul Barrett’s AZ-NGA acquired the Australian Unity financial planning business, while COG Financial Services withdrew its bid for Diverger and picked up ClearView Wealth’s 19.99% stake in Centrepoint.

However, it was Friday’s announcement that COG Financial Services had acquired ClearView Wealth’s stake in Centrepoint Alliance which might ultimately prove to be the most consequential transaction in the financial planning space.

Why? Because COG, while little known in financial planning licensee circles, is a not exactly a minnow. It has a market capitalisation of $236.56 million which, in context, is three times that of Count Limited at $74.72 million.

What is more, and as reported by Financial Newswire more than a week ago, COG Financial Services actually grew out of Centrepoint Alliance giving some nuance to it acquiring the ClearView stake.

Then, too, ClearView’s former managing director, Simon Swanson, is now the chair of Centrepoint.

COG’s Friday acquisition of the ClearView stake did its share price no harm with it ending the week trading at around $1.30 while, equally, Count Limited’s decision to lift its bid for Diverger to an implied consideration of $1.365 saw its own share price lift to 67 cents per share.

Diverger shares closed at $1.30 in the wake of Friday’s flurry of announcements.

Also the subject of much industry conjecture is the question of what the Commonwealth Bank will do with its remaining 35.9% shareholding in Count Limited and when that stake might come on the market, if it has not already.

What was clear from Friday’s COG announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) is that it regards its stake in Centrepoint as only the beginning and that it is prepared to invest further.

And in the meantime, Diverger’s major shareholders probably feel rewarded for having preferred Count Limited over COG.


Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor

Managing Editor/Publisher, Financial Newswire

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