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Winterflood sale imminent

DETAILS of a sale of the specialist smaller companies dealer Winterflood Securities are expected next week, as part of the slimming down of the specialist money market bank Union Discount. The price is expected to be in the region of pounds 15m.

At the same time, Union ended merger talks with an unnamed bidder. The 100-year-old firm is expected to use the funds from the Winterflood sale to bolster its capital in the hope of remaining independent, concentrating on its core banking and money markets business. Union shares slumped 19p to 84p yesterday.

Brian Winterflood, head of the firm that bears his name, said the expected buyer was a 'highly respected English financial house', and he expected the announcement within days rather than weeks.

The firm would keep its identity under the new ownership. Business had been 'very good' recently after picking up about six months ago, helped by the withdrawal of some of the bigger market makers from the small companies field, he said.

The expected sale was announced as Union Discount said merger talks begun in the late autumn had been called off, and the company was not aware of anybody else who might bid.

This was interpreted as a declaration of intent to remain independent. The firm is expected to hold on to its remaining leasing subsidiaries.