Sharp expansion

JOHN WILLCOCK

Financial Correspondent

Albert E Sharp, the Birmingham-based stockbroker, announced yesterday that it has bought the private client broking business of Brown Shipley from Guinness Peat Group for pounds 6.7m.

Ian Wade, Sharp's deputy chairman, claimed the addition of Brown Shipley's 14 offices and 214 employees would make the group the largest national independent firm of stockbrokers.

"We need to get bigger in order to fund things like information technology development. This gives us better national coverage, including a presence in Scotland. We want to float, and this deal makes the right size," said Mr Wade.

The business which has been acquired includes Brown Shipley and three regional business, Stirling Hendry in Scotland, Roy James in Birmingham and Wilshere Baldwin in Leicester.

The deputy chairman did not rule out job cuts to remove duplication but added that no decisions had yet been made, and cuts had not been part of the plan. "We may need everybody - it depends on the market," he said.

Guinness Peat Group, new Zealand entrepreneur Sir Ron Brierley's investment vehicle, bought Brown Shipley two and a half years ago from Kredietbank Luxembourgeoise. GPG tried to sell the broker once before 18 months ago with a price tag closer to pounds 10m but failed. Since then market volumes have fallen.

Since acquiring it, GPG has sold off Brown Shipley's asset management arm and restructured the business. The value of net assets deliverable to Sharp is pounds 3.8m, and the pre-tax profits attributable to which, for the year ended 31 December 1994, were pounds 532,000.

Under the deal Sharp also acquired the Brown Shipley Stockbroking Pension Fund surplus, worth up to pounds 700,000 in cash, taking the consideration up to pounds 7.4m.

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