Bitter ending for property merger: Baker and Harris walk out after two years

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The Independent Online
THE FAILED merger of Herring, Son & Daw with Baker Harris Saunders came to an acrimonious end yesterday after two directors, Michael Baker and Simon Harris, walked out on the struggling property agent.

Herring Baker shares, which have been in freefall since the two companies joined forces in January 1992, closed a further 7p lower at 41p after a 5 per cent shareholder, believed to be the British Coal pension fund, dumped its stake. At the time of the merger the shares were worth 175p.

Nicholas Owen, chairman, said the two remained as directors on full pay until a settlement could be reached but were on 'gardening leave'.

He added: 'The strength of the group is greater and the interests more important than those of any individual.' Both men have clauses in their contracts barring them from setting up in competition.

The two companies merged to combine Herring's traditional strength in rating advice with Baker Harris's strong agency position in the City of London, but the marriage was never successful.

Early on it became clear that there were cultural differences between the two groups, costs remained stubbornly high and there were problems with Baker Harris's US operations, which were finally closed last year after a pounds 1.4m loss.