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Providers&#39 cash backs BBN&#39s Berkeley buy

National IFA Berry Birch & Noble has raised £12.5m from five product providers to help fund the acquisition of Berkeley Independent network for £47.7m.

Clerical Medical, Friends Provident, Norwich Union, Scottish Widows and Skandia have each invested £2.5m in the firm, giving each provider a 4.6 per cent share in Berkeley Berry Birch, the new financial services group being formed from the reverse takeover.

Subject to shareholders&#39 approval at an extraordinary general meeting on January 4, Berkeley Berry Birch says it will have around 600 registered individuals, a recognised brand and market pres- ence and multi-channel financial services distribution.

It says the FSA has decided that better than best rules are not being contravened by providers having an 23 per cent stake in the group as each acted independently and were not part of a consortium.

Berkeley Independent&#39s 550 network members are being given the option of buying up to 2.4 million shares in the new firm as part of the deal to encourage them to be part of the group&#39s future growth.

The main board will be headed by Cliff Lockyer, with Stephen Ingledew as marketing director and Craig Butcher as financial director. Michael Walls, formerly managing director of Sedgwick&#39s Northern operation, will laos join the board. Clive Ellston is leaving as a board director of BBN Financial Services, the IFA division of BBN.

Lockyer says: “The acquisition will enhance the group&#39s presence, enabling it to be better placed to take advantage of the changes in the market for independent financial advice.”

Friends Provident director of IFA operations Rocco Sepe says: “We think the IFA market has been in turmoil and is undercapitalised. We have taken a minority stake in this group which we think has a terrific set-up.”


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