A year dominated by acquisitions began with concerns over the future of the The Exchange after it was put up for sale at the end of 2004.Many firms were touted as potential buyers, including IBM, Capita and Unisys, but in March outsourcing giant Vertex snapped up Marlborough Stirling for 95m. Product providers were becoming increasingly concerned about portal owner- ship and in June groups of providers made bids for Assureweb and The Exchange. Five providers took over the 60 per cent of Assureweb owned by Sesame, which meant that it became purely provider-owned, while Vertex said it rejected a number of bids for The Exchange. On the software provider side, Fairs parent WMS was bought by Financial Objects and Quay Software was taken over by Capita, with speculation Capita was also lining up a bid for the Webline portal to create a complete adviser outsourcing system. 1st released a new version of its Adviser Office software and the year also saw new product lines from Sirius and Intelliflo. Wrap development continued with Lifetime, owned by Norwich Union, launching The Bigger Picture and Standard Life announcing its wrap would go live early in 2006. Egg closed down the Funds Direct wrap with the technology being used to set up IFA owned wrap Ascentric. Wrap maestro Paul Bradshaw’s move to Abbey could yet be significant and the industry still awaits any potential offering from Abacas.