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Price is wrong so Friends ditches Pantheon sale

Friends Provident has called off plans to sell IFA firm Pantheon Financial after failing to get a deal at the right price.

It said it was looking to sell Pantheon, wealth management firm Lombard and its 52 per cent share in F&C Asset Management at the launch of a strategic review in January.

But on Monday, Friends said, despite interest from several parties, it had taken the decision to retain Pantheon, which it bought in 2007 for 24.3m.

The firm says it made the decision “to avoid disruption” to Pantheon due to speculation and because it has not been possible “to realise suitable value for shareholders” in the short term. It is thought that a private equity bidder pulled out of a deal. A spokesman says the situation will be reviewed when conditions improve. It will give an on how the proposed sale of Lombard and F&C is progressing with its interim results in August.

Seven Investment Management director Justin Urquhart Stewart says: “If Friends needed the money now, it would have had to sell but if not it would be pointless to put it through what is really a market fire sale.”

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