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Merger decision within a month

A decision on whether the proposed merger of Inter-Alliance and Berkeley Berry Birch will go ahead is expected within a month, according to BBB chairman and chief executive Cliff Lockyer.

BBB says the delay in the decision whether to proceed with the merger has not been caused by dealings with the FSA over the winding-up of Berry Birch & Noble Financial Services.

When the merger was announced in January, the two companies said a decision would be made by March. The delay in due diligence is believed to be in part connected to the size of both businesses which are each among the UK&#39s biggest IFA groups.

Combining the two loss-making firms would create a combined network and IFA organisation of more than 2,000 members and an annual turnover of £130m.

The two companies have agreed that if the merger deal does go ahead, the new entity will trade under the Berkeley Berry Birch brand name.

Inter-Alliance made a loss of £17.8m in 2002 while BBB lost £38.9m in the year to March 31, 2003. Both firms say that a merger would allow them to cut costs, with BBB&#39s Coventry headquarters more likely than Inter-Alliance&#39s head office in Wimbledon, south-west London to be the base of the combined operation.

Lockyer says: “We will be in a position to talk about the merger with Inter-Alliance in a month&#39s time. It has taken longer than expected but I am comfortable with the way things are going. While I cannot comment on the merger talks, I can say that Berry Birch & Noble is not affecting them.”

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