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Co-op IFA staff fear job losses

Employees of Co-operative Financial Services’ IFA arm are concerned over their job security if talks with a potential buyer lead to a takeover.

Last week, Money Marketing revealed Co-op is in exclusive talks with a potential buyer for Co-operative Independent Financial Advisers
Any buyer would have to agree to protect employment terms as part of the deal under the transfer of undertakings (protection of employment) regulations, known as a Tupe agreement.

But Money Marketing understands this would only offer Cifa staff protection for a limited time period, thought to be a maximum of one year. It has 120 staff, with around 60 of those being advisers.

One Cifa employee who contacted Money Marketing says: “We are concerned there is nothing to prevent the buyer redesigning the organisation and disposing of unwanted staff very cheaply. We are worried about the impact that would have on any redund-ancy payments.”

A Co-op spokesman says the company is looking at a number of options for Cifa following the firm’s merger with Britannia Building Society. He says: “Our preferred option is the potential sale of the business and we are in advanced discussions on an exclusive basis with a third party.

“Whatever final decision is taken, we will seek to minimise any impact to our colleagues and customers. We will also continue to consult with colleagues and our trade unions on any proposed changes.”

Towry chief executive Andrew Fisher has denied his firm is in talks with the Co-op.

Co-op Financial Services posted a profit of £212.8m for 2009, including the profits of the merged Britannia business from August 1 2009. This is up by 232 per cent from £64.1m in 2008. Like-for-like profit was £66.7m for 2009, up from £48m for 2008. Separate results for Cifa were not disclosed in the annual accounts.

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