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Charcol may bid for MBO

Bradford & Bingley&#39s decision to put its IFA businesses up for sale could lead to a management buyout at Charcol, according to general manager Ricky Okey.

Speaking to Money Marketing, Okey said an MBO is definitely an option but stressed that there is no time limit on the sale as it is more important to B&B that Charcol finds the right home.

His comments came as B&B moved to quash speculation that multi-tying The MarketPlace would prompt an exodus of IFAs.

B&B chief executive Steven Crawshaw says that, given the potential for higher margins and better service, he is confident that most advisers will remain with the group.

He says he is very conscious of ensuring that advisers are informed on the group&#39s plans, saying it would be a mistake to keep them in the dark.

However, leading mortgage brokerages are believed to be circling Char- col&#39s top consultants, including Hamptons Inter-national Mortgages, which has had discussions with several leading Charcol consultants.

Charcol took its top consultants to Barbados last week in what was believed to be an attempt to keep them on board. Okey denies this, saying the trip was simply a coincidence.

Crawshaw says: “IFAs, not just ours, need to pause and reflect on the future ahead. I do not expect our IFAs to leave. Margins will be better and service will be better. Ultimately they will hit paydirt.”

Savills Private Finance Tom Bland says: “I cannot deny that we have been seeing people from Charcol over the last few weeks and we have certainly had more calls from their consultants.”

Hamptons managing director Kevin Duffy says: “Charcol has had its head in the sand with regard to people looking elsewhere.”

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