Commerzbank seeks stake in Fleming

GERMANY'S Commerzbank, has let it be known in the City that it is ready to offer up to pounds 24 a share for a majority stake in Robert Fleming, a price that would value the firm, one of the few remaining independent British investment banks, at more than pounds 4bn.

The offer could be structured to allow the management, under the chairman John Manser and members of the Fleming family, to remain as shareholders.

It would, however, reopen the rift between those within the Fleming family who support the board's determination to remain independent at all costs and others who would like to sell provided they can get the right price.

Officially Commerzbank, which is capitalised at around pounds 10bn, has refused to comment on its interest in Fleming. Yet banking sources in Frankfurt say that the bank has been using the model of Jupiter, its UK fund management business which is 25 per cent owned by the management. "We are not all big bad Germans," one banker said.

Fleming said the bank was not in takeover talks.

The Fleming family remain the biggest shareholders with some 30 per cent, which is held through a variety of trusts. However, the family are not united in backing the board, even though a number of Flemings retain senior management positions within the firm.

The sources say that Commerzbank, which tried and failed five years ago to acquire Smith New Court, the stockbroker, is keen not to overpay. The jury is still out within the City over where the sums spent by Fleming over the last 18 months building up its own global equities business from scratch will pay off.

Minority shareholders in Fleming, who have been agitating for the bank to sell out, say that the price being talked about over the last fortnight is significantly higher than the pounds 20 a share being suggested when Commerzbank was first rumoured to be showing an interest late last year.

However, they add that some senior Fleming executives have been saying over the last few days that the asset management side of the business and Fleming's Save & Prosper retail brand have acquired a greater rarity value following the pounds 1.9bn takeover of M&G by the Prudential. The executives think the firm should hold out for pounds 30 a share, which would value the group at pounds 4.6bn.

The position of the Hong Kong-based Keswick family also remains uncertain. Following the deal last December to unravel the Jardine Fleming joint venture, the family holds 17 per cent. Bankers say the deal was seen at the time as bolstering the position of those opposed to the sale. However, even pounds 24 a share would represent a premium of around 60 per cent to the price they paid.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat