Ex Pru-chief Bloomer plans City comeback

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The Independent Online

The former chief executive of Prudential, Jonathan Bloomer, has joined forces with one of Gordon Brown's former senior economic advisers to launch a new financial services venture.

It is thought the new company, Lucida, will play in the busy bulk-purchase annuity market, putting Mr Bloomer in competition with his former Prudential colleagues Mark Wood and Isabel Hudson, both of whom have launched ventures in the same market over the past 12 months.

Mr Bloomer will be partnered by Christopher Wales, a former managing director of Goldman Sachs and ex-economic adviser to the Chancellor. He is credited with devising the windfall tax on utilities, and is one of Mr Brown's closest confidants.

The third member of the new company is David Clinton, a former partner at the management consultants Accenture, where he led its HR Services division.

Mr Bloomer has kept a relatively low profile since being ousted from Prudential last year. He has been working as an adviser for the US hedge fund managers Cerberus Capital Management, and has retained his position as head of the Financial Services Practitioners' Panel.

The former Prudential chief executive was fired last year, months after he surprised the City with a £1bn rights issue. Shareholders were furious about the cash call, having been assured months earlier the company would not need to come to the market to raise additional capital.

Mr Bloomer also came under fire for his handling of the sale of Egg, the internet bank in which Prudential owned a controlling stake. After putting the business up for sale at the start of 2004, he knocked back several bids before withdrawing the company from the market.

Mr Bloomer's successor, Mark Tucker, went on to buy the remaining 21 per cent stake which the Prudential did not own. The bank has proved a headache for the company in recent months, as its bad levels have soared. As well as being Gordon Brown's main adviser on taxation issues, Mr Wales has been a visiting fellow at the University of Cambridge's law faculty, and previously worked for Arthur Andersen for 18 years.

Last year, Mr Wales launched a centre for business taxation at Oxford University in association with the Hundred Club, a City association comprising the finance directors of FTSE 100 companies.