Singer close to buying Carnegie

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SINGER & Friedlander, the merchant banking group, is believed to be close to buying Carnegie International, the European stockbroker, for an undisclosed sum, writes Nigel Cope.

Carnegie, owned by Nordbanken of Sweden, has offices in the UK, Sweden, Spain and Italy. It has been for sale for 18 months. The deal is thought to include a Scandinavian group as well as Singer.

John Hodson, Singer's chief executive, said: 'We're looking at any number of projects all the time. But we will only announce something when it is appropriate.'

An investment in Carnegie would fit Singer's plan to expand by taking majority stakes in financial service ventures. Singer already owns 51 per cent of the stockbroker Collins Stewart, but Carnegie's speciality of European and Scandinavian equities would mean the two would not overlap.

'It would help Singer move towards more of a diversified financial services group,' said Tony Cummings, analyst at SG Warburg. 'The deal would make sense.'

In March, Singer announced pre-tax profits of pounds 34m, up from pounds 6m the previous year.