Friends Life has put Sesame Bankhall Group up for sale and appointed Barclays Investment Bank to find potential buyers for the business.
Money Marketing understands Barclays is contacting a number of firms to gauge interest with a private equity led management buy-out bid seen as one option.
Friends Life bought Sesame from software company Misys in May 2007 for around £75m and took on all past liabilities as part of the deal.
In October 2009, Sesame completed the acquisition of Bankhall and PMS from Skandia and rebranded as SesameBankhall.
In August 2011, Friends announced it was splitting its operations between an open book and closed book of business, which saw Sesame Bankhall Group executive chairman Ivan Martin report to the UK Heritage Business. George Higginson was promoted to chief executive of SBG in November 2011.
SBG’s latest accounts show the group made a trading profit of £2.2m in 2011, down 56 per cent from £5m in 2010. The firm’s network arm Sesame Limited made a loss of £2.5m. It paid out £11.4m in claims and set aside £7.4m for future complaints.
Investec analyst Kevin Ryan says life companies are unlikely to take an interest in acquiring Sesame unless they can guarantee distribution through its advisers.
He says: “There is an enormous question over the entire industry and it is an extremely difficult time to try and sell an advice business the size of Sesame.
“It is out of the question a life company would consider this unless they could ensure everything was going into their products, but that would not suit individual Sesame advisers.”
Access Wealth Management partner Jim Clancy says: “This shows SBG is not vital to Friends Life’s strategy. A management buyout is a strong possibility, alongside a private equity firm.”
Friends Life, Sesame and Barclays all declined to comment.