View from City Road: The remains of Remnant

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The Independent Online
SOCIETE GENERALE'S acquisition of Touche Remnant in 1989 was accompanied by the usual baloney about the restructuring of the European financial services industry and seizing the opportunities presented by 1992. Three and a half years later - and even before trade barriers are officially removed - the deal with the French bank has fallen apart.

Despite a 500-point rise in the FT-SE 100 and the launch of a couple of new investment trusts, Touche Remnant is today looking after pounds 800m less than it was in April 1989. It never received the volume of business that it hoped to see from its French parent. So much for the distributive strengths of European banks.

Henderson Administration, Touche's prospective owner, has had its own problems, losing pension fund clients through poor investment performance. Henderson claims these difficulties are almost behind it.

The deal will create a group with pounds 9bn under management, a fraction of the size of Mercury Asset Management and Phillips & Drew Fund Management. Still, spending pounds 30m or so of its pounds 55m cash pile on Touche is better use of shareholders' money than parking it in a bank.

The success of the deal will depend on the savings Henderson is able to make by eliminating duplication of overheads - which will mean redundancies among Touche's 160 staff.

But the deal makes only the smallest of inroads into the numerous ranks of small and unprofitable fund managers. With so many owned by large, deep-pocketed institutions, the wholesale restructuring of the industry looks as far away as ever.