Collins retired from the firm in March 2000, and in May that year, chief executive Terry Smith and Stewart led a £122m management buyout from Singer & Friedlander. The company subsequently floated on the London Stock Exchange in October 2000 as Collins Stewart Tullett, with a market cap on listing of about £326m.
This was the golden age for the company, posting pre-tax profits of almost £18m for the first half of 2000. At the time, Smith – who held an 8.5 per cent stake – described the firm’s ethos as “enlightened despotism”. “People work here because we get the job done,” he said.
But things became less amicable in 2003, when Smith ousted Stewart from the firm he had helped build up into a City powerhouse. The “last straw”, said the racehorse fanatic who went on to found the brokerage Cenkos in 2005, was that the Cheltenham Gold Cup clashed with a board meeting.
Back at Collins Stewart, the company demerged in December 2006 into stockbroker Collins Stewart and interdealer-broker Tullett Prebon.
Several acquisitions at Collins Stewart later – including Hawkpoint Partners and the much-criticised C E Unterberg Towbin deal – shareholders this May approved the group’s change of name to Collins Stewart Hawkpoint. A short-lived moniker, as it turns out, as new owner Canaccord rebrands yet again.