Friends Provident merges fund management arm with Ivory & Sime in pounds 132m reverse takeover

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The Independent Online
Friends Provident has agreed to merge its fund management arm with the struggling Ivory & Sime company in a pounds 132m reverse takeover that will create the largest investment house in Scotland.

Peter Jones, chief executive of Friends Provident Asset Management, will become chief executive of the new group. Sir David Kinloch, executive chairman of Ivory & Sime, will step down to a non-executive role. The new group, to be named Friends Ivory & Sime, brings to pounds 22bn the amount managed by Friends Provident subsidiaries, putting it in to the top 20 fund managers in the UK. The merger brings to an end a tortuous three- years for Ivory & Sime which has seen uncertainty over its ownership, the departure of key senior executives and the loss of its largest fund management contracts.

Sir David said: "The proposed merger removes uncertainty about our ownership structure and is in the interests of our clients, staff and shareholders. We will gain a broader mix of business and significantly enhanced distribution which will ensure long-term stability."

This uncertainty stemmed from the loss in 1994 of the contract to manage the Merchant Navy Pension Fund, then worth over pounds 1bn, which held a 20 per cent stake in Ivory & Sime as well as being a client.

After two years of struggling to rebuild the company's client base, Gordon Neilly, the company's business development director, left in January. He was followed by Colin Hook, the managing director, in February. By the end of March the company had lost its largest client, the pounds 600m BAA Pension Scheme.

Ivory and Sime's shares were suspended yesterday at 196.5p, valuing the group at pounds 132m.