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Group 300 seeks £10m to buy network

Cambridge-based IFA network and support services provider Group 300 is looking to raise £10m from private investors to buy a medium-sized network within the next six months.

The group, formerly Advice Store, launched in January last year, is in negotiations with a commercial financier to secure the £10m from private equity investors.

It is aiming to use the investment to buy a medium-sized network of between 100 and 200 RIs at the end of October.

Group 300 already includes a 199-RI network which it is looking to expand, an audio-conferencing business, a specialist compliance consultancy and an HR and business consultancy arm.

It recently announced plans to offer compliance and conferencing products to the Australian market in October.

Chief executive officer Chris Batten says: “The markets at the moment are very difficult and it is our belief that the City would pay no more than 1.9 to two times turnover for a business against this backdrop. Notwithstanding this, all indicators suggest that conditions are improving and speculation over just who is purchasing who continues to be rife. Yes, we are actively seeking investment and, yes, we will be going back on the acquisition trail. I believe we offer great value for money and will continue to shape the way our industry will look well into the future.”

Numis analyst Justin Bates says: “I think it is right to suggest the product providers are losing interest in the IFA market. Increasingly, we are going to see a flight to quality from both product providers and retail investors.

“The quoted IFAs have not proved themselves and product providers are clearly asking if they should carry on supporting them.”

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