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Inter-Alliance in merger talks with BBB

Aim-listed national IFAs Berkeley Berry Birch and Inter-Alliance are in mer-ger talks with a vision of creating an IFA worth £1bn within five years.

The plan would see two of the industry&#39s biggest personalities join forces on the same board, with Inter-Alliance chief executive Keith Carby expected to take the role of chairman and BBB chairman Cliff Lockyer becoming chief executive.

The new enlarged business is likely to trade under the Berkeley Berry Birch brand, with cost savings and improved bargaining power expected from economies of scale.

Lockyer told Inter-Alliance advisers at the firm&#39s conference in Wales this week that his vision of a firm valued at £1bn with an annual turnover of £550m could be achieved within five years. The two companies&#39 combined turnover is currently £130m.

Both parties are now involved in due diligence, with a decision on a merger expected in March, pending Takeover Panel approval. Combining the two loss-making firms would create a combined network and IFA organisation with over 2,000 advisers.

Inter-Alliance is the UK&#39s fourth-biggest IFA and analysts see the deal as creating a stronger fourth-placed firm on numbers of registered individuals, ranking behind Sesame, Bankhall and Tenet.

Carby says: “Our business is a people business and we have looked long and hard at our potential merger candidate. I cannot think of a better fit.”

Lockyer says: “Can Carby and Lockyer work together? The answer is yes. Neither Keith nor I are disappearing. We come from different backgrounds but we have a shared vision and there is no conflict.”

Durlacher analyst David Pannell says: “I am only 50-50 over whether this will happen because these are two very strong personalities. Both companies need a deal – BBB because it is taking a long time to get into profit and its share price has not moved and Inter-Alliance because its business model is not yet proven and it cannot ask for City cash again.”

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