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Bankhall owner Lynx in talks on takeover

Lynx, owner of the UK&#39s second-biggest IFA grouping, Bankhall, has confirmed that it is in talks with a possible buyer.

The company, which is valued at £178m, confirmed last week that it had entered into exclusive discussions which may lead to its sale at 120p per share.

Speculation is now rife about possible suitors for the company, with many IFAs believing that mega-network Misys could be a leading contender, but no company will confirm any involvement.

However, such a move could prove difficult under competition rules as, with Bankhall&#39s 4,000 registered individuals and Misys&#39 7,250 RIs, such a group would corner around a third of the IFA market.

IFAs say other possible bidders could include product providers such as GE Life, National Australia Bank, Skandia Life and Zurich IFA which may join the scramble to secure distribution, poss-ibly believing that polarisa-tion will be scrapped.

As one of Bankhall&#39s biggest product providers, Skandia would have to risk foregoing a large slice of business under the FSA&#39s better-than-best rule which has restricted the sale of AMP products by Towry Law since its takeover in July.

An IFA says: “I do not think that Misys would be able to buy them because of the market share issue. I think it could well be Skandia as Bankhall are a major source of business to them. I know they have been looking at doing something big in the IFA market and looked at DBS before Misys bought it.”

One industry source says: “It could be National Aus-tralia Bank, Zurich IFA, GE or any number of companies. But it is less likely to be an active product provider in the UK. What is curious is it has announced the price in advance. Maybe it is trying to smoke out another bid.”

Cap Gemini Ernst & Young head of insurance Shaun Crawford says: “The Treasury have got the decision on polarisation made and locked in a cabinet.

“Lots of product providers are interested in buying up distribution and being well positioned by going through the negotiation procedure is not a bad idea.”

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