Bridgepoint on brink of Quilter deal

PRIVATE equity house Bridgepoint is set to buy Quilter, an arm of Morgan Stanley’s wealth management unit which the US bank is offloading for a second time.

The buyout group, whose investments range from Pret a Manger to a series of continental financial and business services groups, is expected to pay around £180m for the business after entering into exclusive talks with Morgan Stanley.

Quilter takes private clients prepared to invest at least £25,000, while international private banking businesses such as Morgan Stanley’s typically cater to clients worth millions. It origins go back to 1777 and it has £7.6bn under management with offices in Britain, Jersey and Ireland.

Morgan Stanley first sold Quilter to rival Citi in 2006, before coming to own it again after buying a majority stake in Smith Barney from Citi.

Last week it emerged that Morgan Stanley was paying lower bonuses for 2011, reflecting a weaker performance, as capital markets reacted to the European sovereign debt crisis and a downgrade of the US bond rating. Clients pulled back sharply on trading and investment banking activity, hurting profits across Wall Street.

Morgan Stanley, like rivals such as Goldman Sachs, responded to rough market conditions by cutting staff and salaries.

All parties declined to comment on the future of Quilter.