B&C based growth plans on company

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The Independent Online
EXCO's moneybroking business was born out of the foreign exchange broker, Astley & Pearce, which began trading in London in 1931, writes John Willcock.

The company expanded globally in the 1960s and 1970s, opening offices in New York, Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong. It floated successfully in 1981 and, after a failed merger attempt with Morgan Grenfell, was bought by British & Commonwealth in 1986 for pounds 656m. B&C was in effect controlled by the Cayzer family who employed John Gunn - who had previously headed Exco - to run it.

Mr Gunn saw Exco as powering B&C's expansion. In a complicated deal a City consortium bought B&C from the Cayzers. In 1990, it fell apart when a financial black hole was discovered at another B&C acquisition, Atlantic Computers.

B&C went into administration and Exco became a bid target. But the administrators held out. Trading performance improved as the recession lifted, and the administrators are now keen to allow Exco to return as a independent listed company.