Cenkos denies Panmure bid as profit falls

City A.M. Reporter
CENKOS Securities has no interest in the sector’s prime bid target, Panmure Gordon, although Cenkos’ chief executive said his company could benefit from any disruption at Panmure.

“I’m more interested in acquiring teams and individuals,” Cenkos chief executive Simon Melling said, as the company reported lower first-half profits yesterday.

Britain’s mid-tier stockbroking sector has recently been stirred by signs of sector consolidation, as the industry faces pressures from fewer deals due to financial market turmoil.

Earlier this month, Evolution Securities said it was considering bidding for smaller rival Panmure Gordon, while UK broker Alexander David is eyeing a bid for peer Hoodless Brennan.

In the past, Cenkos has looked at rivals Close Brothers and Arden Partners, but Melling said mergers between brokers were often hard to pull off.

He added that Cenkos could benefit from any disruption at Panmure or Evolution caused by the bid situation. “I think it creates opportunities for Cenkos. We may be able to prize away clients and dissatisfied individuals,” he said.

Cenkos’ underlying interim operating profit fell 7.4 per cent to £5m, but Melling hoped Cenkos’ second half profits would be “slightly up” on those of the first-half.

It saw strong growth in its wealth management business with funds under management rising to £982m at the end of June, up from £657m a year earlier. An interim dividend of 2p has been proposed, down from 5p last year.

“We’ve had a good start to the second half. We were closing deals in July and August,” said Melling.

Cenkos shares closed 3.8 per cent higher at 109p yesterday giving the group a market capitalisation of around £74m. Panmure’s market value stands at roughly £44m while Evolution’s market capitalisation is around £200m.

Britain’s smaller, independent investment banks and brokers have posted mixed first-half results. Panmure and Ambrian Capital reported interim losses, while Collins Stewart and privately-held Liberum Capital had higher first-half profits.