Axa has confirmed it has appointed Fenchurch Advisory Partners to assist in the sale of Bluefin Advisory Services.
Axa says the move follows a number of expressions of interest while reports suggest the arm, which includes Bluefin’s wealth management and corporate advice businesses, could be sold for £100m.
The Sunday Telegraph reports a management buyout by Bluefin Advisory Services chief executive Nick Burns (pictured) has been mooted, while JLT, Marsh and Aon have all been touted as possible trade buyers.
Axa says that Bluefin Insurance Group, the general insurance broking business, is not part of this review. The group also says there are no plans to bring this business “in-house”. Bluefin has more than 2,000 employees across 60 offices in the UK.
A statement from Axa on the appointment of Fenchurch says: “Working closely with the senior management team in BAS, Fenchurch will consider both the prospects for the continued growth of the business under its existing ownership structure as well as assessing and testing whether Bluefin Advisory Services, its clients and staff would be better positioned under new ownership.
In October 2006, Axa’s Advisory Services arm, now called Bluefin, bought Thinc for a total £100m consideration. This included a £10m initial payment and a £60m deferred consideration based on the group’s performance in 2009, as well as £30m to restructure its debts. However Grant Thornton has declared the 2009 targets were not reached, meaning the deal has cost Axa just £40m in total.
On October 2010, Bluefin reported a £62m write-down due to costs relating to its restructure, which included cutting its private client adviser headcount from 180 to just 50.