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All change

Rumours are hotting up as to who will replace Stephen Leaman at Openwork, with several names in the running.

Foster Denovo executive chairman Keith Carby appears to be the favourite candidate, but has refused to confirm or deny if he has been in talks with the network.

Others tipped include Andy Ferns, but sources suggest he has been denying to people that he is in the frame.

Understandably Openwork is being pretty tight-lipped on the negotiations.

Leaman is due to stand down at the end of the year, when his contract finishes and the business is highly likely to have begun preparations for a trade sale, as it heads towards its three-year anniversary.

But who would buy the business?

It could well be an amalgamation of manufacturers and distributors, which seems to be becoming more and more commonplace.

A number of the large life companies would probably like to get their hands on a strong distribution group like Openwork, while other industry sources have suggested it could be a distribution group looking to strengthen its position.

Elsewhere, Chelsea Investments Limited has struck a deal to take over the servicing of Equal Partners’ client bank.

Equal Partners managing director Vivienne Starkey died earlier this year and director Kevin Tooze has left the firm to start a new venture called Equity Partners UK.

CIL and Tooze have both written to clients and, although both sides want to avoid any confrontation, Equal Partners company secretary William Starkey- who was married to Vivienne- has asked clients to disregard any communications from Tooze regarding his firm.

Following last week’s announcement that Thinc Group chief executive Simon Chamberlain was retiring from the industry to enjoy the quieter (perhaps?!) life and spend more time with his three children, incoming chief executive John Simmonds has suggested it is ‘business as usual’.

Simmonds says despite industry speculation that there will be a massive sea-change in terms of the way Thinc is run, he has no intention for the firm’s strategy to change.

Acquisition and organic growth will still be at the heart of Thinc’s mantra, as will acquiring quality wealth managers and moving advisers into a more repeat-income-based model.


Pearl Jam

A week has passed since the proposed merger of Resolution and Friends Provident was announced and still there seems to be more questions than answers over the future of both asset management arms.

Home economics

Sales of equity release plans are at record levels and the market looks set to grow significantly in the second half of the year as the market wakes up to the benefits that more flexible drawdown plans can offer. Gregor Watt reports

Morgan Stanley

The group’s £6m UK equity fund has underperformed by 10 per cent over the past three years.Modray says this proves that large resources are no guarantee of success.A Morgan Stanley spokesman comments that the fund is not marketed and has “minimal assets”.

Fast food

Commodities and property have been in the news in recent days, perhaps as a consequence of investors looking for an asset class unlikely to be sullied by the sub-prime meltdown. Both these potential homes for what appears to be a never-ending tide of liquidity have not been without their problems, however.


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