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Money Portal MBO looming

Money Portal has revealed it is in exclusive takeover talks with one bidder, understood to inv-olve a management buyout.

On Tuesday, Moneymarketing.co.uk revealed that the firm was in talks with a single bidder which Money Portal confirmed was not a provider or rival IFA firm. It would not comment on whether it took the form of an MBO.

This year, the group has lost five company directors, including Richard Craven, Chris Edge, Peter Simon and Nigel Ward. Former chairman Richard Hambro died recently. Six directors remain – Andrew Firth, Bryan Levine, Mark Lund, Prodaman Sarwal, Roderick Sinclair and Mark Tennant.

Group head of strategy and distribution Alan Easter is currently on the board of a number of its subsidiaries, including Sage Financial Services, Bates Investment Services, Burns Anderson and Willis Owen.

Mark Lund joined Money Portal as group chief executive last September from his post as chief executive of St James’s Place.

In April, Money Portal appointed Fenchurch Advisory Partners to conduct a strategic review of the business and evaluate investment proposals.

Money Portal said it had a number of expressions of interest, with an outright sale a possibility.

Money Portal acquired execution-only business Willis Owen and national IFA Bates Investment Services in 2003 and Berkley Berry Birch subsidiary Weston Financial Planning in March 2006 as BBB went into administration.

The firm took on Millfield Partnership Limited and the Sage network in July 2006 for £10.5m, with the rest of Millfield placed into administration. Money Portal acquired Burns Anderson for £14.2m in February 2008. Last October, the group estimated that it had around 1,800 advisers.

Money Portal chairman Mark Tennant, who was appointed in February this year, says: “On Monday evening, the board agreed to enter into exclusive discussions with a preferred bidder that is neither a competitor firm nor product provider.

“The board believes this to be a very positive development for the business and I look forward to being able to tell you more in the near future.”

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