Trust to buy Martin Bierbaum

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The Independent Online
TRIO Investment Trust, a tiny fund run by David Hagan, a former boss at the money broker Tullett & Tokyo, expects this week to sign a pounds 25m deal to acquire Martin Bierbaum, the money broker formerly owned by Gary Klesch's Quadrex.

Trio is relying on Smith New Court, its broker, to raise the money to fund the purchase. The company plans a pounds 15m placing of shares with institutions, with a rights issue to raise the balance.

Martin Bierbaum is under the control of the banks that took possession when Quadrex ran into difficulties. The money broker has more than 700 employees in 10 offices in the world's main financial centres.

Trio's shares have been suspended since July, when the company first announced its intentions. Although Martin Bierbaum has since traded strongly because of the volatility in Europe's exchange rate mechanism, the proposed deal was sufficiently binding not to require a renegotiation of the price.

The enlarged group will cease to be an investment trust and will be renamed Trio Holdings.

Trio, launched two years ago, has only pounds 2m under management. The trust intended to exploit a loophole in the personal equity plan regulations to enable private investors to escape being taxed on holdings very much larger than the usual Pep limit. But the Government abolished the loophole soon afterwards, leaving Trio too small to be viable.

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