Merchant Secs chief Claridge leaves the firm

PATRICK Claridge has relinquished the reins of Merchant Securities, the financial services firm he has led since 2006, it emerged yesterday.

Claridge vacated his office on Thursday, he told City A.M. last night, insisting that his departure was on friendly terms and “was always part of the plan”, following Sanlams’s buyout of Merchant last February.

Sanlam, the South African investment conglomerate, aims to compete with fellow South African transplants Old Mutual and Investec, by consolidating its operations in the UK – investment companies Nucleus and Principal Investment Management.

“It make sense for them to integrate their UK operations,” Claridge added.

Claridge, the former head of the London operations of E*Trade, was circumspect about his future plans, other than decreasing his handicap on the golf course. “I’m quite keen to explore something else, but the market environment is tough right now,” he said.

Daniel Kriel, chief executive of Sanlam Private Investments, will relocate from Cape Town to London to lead Merchant Securities for the next three months until a permanent replacement is identified.

Claridge has yet to unload the shares he retained after the Sanlam buyout, but said yesterday he was planning to to sell off his stake shortly.

Following the buyout Merchant Securities retained 25 per cent of the shares, of which Claridge was the largest shareholder.