City's Mr Football in urgent talks to raise cash to bolster broking firm

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The Independent Online

There was intense speculation in the City last night about the future of Seymour Pierce, the stockbroker led by football deal maker Keith Harris.

Mr Harris, the Square Mile's "Mr Football", has brokered some of the biggest deals in the game, and is often linked to many others that do not come to fruition.

Rumours that Seymour was in some difficulty have been the talk of the City for some months, with low levels of takeover activity and little appetite from investors to take risks hitting earnings at all but the biggest brokers.

The firm is known to have been seeking a cash injection from an outside investor for some time.

City sources say that administration is a possibility but insist that it is not imminent. Mr Harris is said to be seeking funds of perhaps £3m.

A smooth-talking, several times divorced Manchester United fan, Mr Harris has led Seymour since 1999. His scalps include introducing Roman Abramovich to Chelsea, getting Randy Lerner into Aston Villa and overseeing the purchase of Manchester City by the former Thailand prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

He has been linked to many other deals involving clubs across the Premier and other leagues.

He did not return calls last night seeking comment. His public relations firm also declined comment.

But City sources said they were not surprised by the news and claimed the firm was running out of time to shore up its position.

Seymour has been around since 1883, but like many rivals has found the financial crisis tough to handle.

Similar-sized firms have merged to save costs or sought help from wealthy overseas backers keen to grab a foothold in the City of London.

Mr Harris was involved somewhat in the "Red Knights" who tried to launch a takeover of Manchester United in 2010.

Most of the firm is owned by Mr Harris and other staff following a management buyout in 2003.

For the year to September 2011, Seymour recorded a loss of £600,000.

Mr Harris lives in Chelsea. He was formerly a neighbour of the TV presenter David Frost in that borough.