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Discount deals put Portal into fund top five

Money Portal, the company set up to buy discount brokerages, has acquired Willis Owen and HCF Partnership as part of its plan to become the leading distributor of UK retail funds.

In the first in a series of purchases which will see the company make three further acquisitions worth £20m by March, Money Portal has paid an undisclosed sum for the two brokerages, which will con- duct direct-offer discount business only.

The deal has been struck by Money Portal managing director Richard Craven, who was previously a partner with HCF. He believes the acquisitions propel Money Portal into the top five UK retail fund distributors, with around £750m under management. He hopes to have topped the £2bn mark by the end of the year.

After finding that seeking backing in the UK was like “getting blood from a stone,” Craven raised cash for the deal in the US, where he is trying to persuade companies to design funds based on absolute returns rather than relative returns.

He says: “Investment returns are at the top of everyone&#39s minds, especially when they see their hard-earned funds dwindled away by fund managers with no vision, no courage and no performance. We are going to highlight bad performance, name and shame fund houses and encourage investors to vote with their feet.”

Hargreaves Lansdown investment manager Ben Yearsley says: “It might be able to buy £2bn under management but that does not mean it will be able to sell any funds. But we welcome the competition.”

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Pension Wise — now taking calls…

Those with decent-length memories will recall that in the 2014 Budget statement George Osborne announced the new (and entirely unexpected) pension freedoms. The new rules come fully into force in less than two weeks.

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