Everyone’s a winner at Australian Wealth Management (AWM) and Select Managed Funds judging by the share price hikes at both companies since their merger was announced last week.

Select’s share price jumped from $5.30 to $7.15 before dipping back to $6.71 yesterday, while Australian Wealth Management’s price jumped from $1.51 to $2.02, settling back to $1.94 yesterday. Big winners at AWM include its managing director, Andrew Barnes, who is retiring from the position when the merger is complete, and 14 senior managers who were granted a total of 3 million options two days prior to the merger announcement. The announcement, on January 19, was that the two groups would merge, in a scrip swap, to form a $22 billion funds management, platform and advisory business. The 14 senior managers at AWM were offered, on January 17, a total of 3 million options exercisable at $1.48 and subject to performance hurdles. They were not named in the ASX notification. Barnes bought 25,000 shares on the market at an average of about $1.45 a share on January 9 on behalf of his family super fund. He also bought 22,000 shares at about $1.32 a share on December 7 in his own name, according to ASX filings. At Select, managing director Chris Kelaher, who had 3 million shares in Select and 1 million options, was granted a further 176,744 options on December 1, exercisable at $4.46. Another long-standing Select executive director, Ian Griffiths, boosted his holding of 4 million shares the previous month, buying 87,286 shares at an average of $4.46 on November 24. But the biggest winner appears to be AWM’s largest shareholder, Guinness Peat Group (GPG), which has over 100 million shares or about 34 per cent of that company. GPG last increased its holding in AWM at the end of September, when it acquired a further 10 million shares. Both Select and AWM listed only last year. The AWM chairman, Robert Thomas, will be chairman of the merged entity and Select chairman, Graham Rogers, will be deputy chair. Shareholders are expected to vote on the merger at meetings in May.

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