ING Barings grabs rival

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The Independent Online

ING Barings, the Dutch-owned merchant bank, is to buy its City rival Charterhouse Securities for around £130m.

ING Barings, the Dutch-owned merchant bank, is to buy its City rival Charterhouse Securities for around £130m.

The deal, to be announced tomorrow, follows the takeover of Charterhouse's parent, Credit Commercial de France, by HSBC. The international banking group did not feel that a small City merchant bank and stockbroker fitted in with its global strategy.

HSBC, however, is retaining the development capital side of Charterhouse, which is considered to be the jewel in the crown of the group built up by Sir Victor Blank, who is now chairman of Trinity Mirror and GUS. The private equity side is best known for the massive profits it made on Porterbrook, the train leasing company it bought from British Rail and sold on to Stagecoach.

The auction of Charterhouse Securities, handled by NM Rothschild, attracted numerous bidders, with ING pipping BNP Paribas to the deal.

The purchase of Charterhouse will strengthen the Dutch bank's presence in the UK. It purchased Baring Brothers from its administrators for £1 in 1995 after it had been brought to its knees by rogue trader Nick Leeson.

However, many of Barings' UK executives have left, the most senior of them joining Greenhills, the niche merchant bank advising on the break-up of Diageo. The sale of Charterhouse will lead to speculation of other deals in the city. The most likely target is Peel Hunt, the broker whose shares collapsed from 520p to 242.5p after its flotation this year.

The shares have shot up 20 per cent in the last couple of weeks, and there is talk in the City that KBC Bancassure, the Belgian financial group, may be ready to mount a bid. Any deal would value Peel Hunt at more than £150m.

Speculation over who is next to be taken over is now likely to focus on Beeson Gregory, the broker, which specialises in small companies and is valued at £155m, and Collins Stewart, which recently bought itself out of Singer & Friedlander, the merchant banking group.

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