Lazard behind Durlacher bid

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The Independent Online

Lazard, the investment bank planning to float in New York later this year, has emerged as the potential bidder for Durlacher, with plans to use its smaller rival as a vehicle through which to spin off its own stockbroking division.

Lazard, the investment bank planning to float in New York later this year, has emerged as the potential bidder for Durlacher, with plans to use its smaller rival as a vehicle through which to spin off its own stockbroking division.

If successful, Lazard will merge its Panmure Gordon business with Durlacher in a deal that will see the new combined entity remain as a listed company.

Durlacher admitted last week that it was in talks with a third party after a 16 per cent rise in its share price. It is thought that the deal with Lazard will be structured as a reverse takeover of Durlacher, with Durlacher potentially issuing shares to buy the much larger Panmure business. The new company would be worth as much as £80m. Until its shares were suspended last week, Durlacher was worth about £21m.

A merger of the two companies would see Lazard divest Panmure only a year after it bought the business, headed up by Tim Linacre, from WestLB, the troubled German bank, in a debt and equity deal worth £50m. It was hoped that Panmure would help to build Lazard's corporate broking business.

But since taking over Panmure, Bruce Wasserstein, the chief executive of Lazard, has pressed ahead with plans to float its core investment banking business in the US. Panmure was not intended to be part of the £1.7bn float, and was expected to stay as a privately owned company within a separate division of Lazard.

A spokesman for Lazard declined to comment.

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