Sir Alan Budd to join Tory donor's spread betting firm

Sir Alan Budd, the former Treasury adviser, is to join the board of IG Group, the spread betting firm founded by the Tory donor, Stuart Wheeler, as the company gears up for its return to the stock market.

The company yesterday announced its indicative share price range at between 112p and 139p, which would give it a market capitalisation of £375m to £435m. Existing shareholders, which include directors and the private equity vehicle CVC Partners, look set to pocket £76m by selling shares in the float.

It will raise an additional £124m through the issue of new shares. The company was taken private in 2003 when Mr Wheeler decided to retire from the company and sell his 24 per cent shareholding. Sir Alan, who will become a non-executive at IG Group, recently picked up a sizeable amount of knowledge about the gambling industry. Having carved out a career as an economist, first at Barclays, then as an adviser to the Treasury and then at the Monetary Policy Committee at the Bank of England, he was asked in 1999 to head a Government commission to reform Britain's arcane gambling laws.

Sir Alan recommended the radical step of opening the country's doors to unrestricted gambling and betting, paving the way for Las Vegas-style casinos in the UK with hundreds of slot machines. A new Gambling Bill was passed last week, but the Government reined in reforms. Only one Las Vegas-style slot machine shed will be built.

Sir Alan still has high political connections. He was charged earlier this year with looking at whether David Blunkett had abused his powers to fast-track a visa for his lover's nanny, an investigation that led to the resignation of the Home Secretary. Martin Jackson, former finance director at the insurance company Friends Provident is also joining the IG board as a non-executive.

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