Peel Hunt staff buyout from KBC completes

BROKER Peel Hunt has started life as an independent entity after completing a buyout by its staff.
The buyout from former owner KBC, a Belgian bancassurance firm, was completed on Friday and values the company at £74m – a third of the £218m KBC bought it for in 2001.

Peel Hunt’s employees own 75 per cent of the new firm’s equity while 25 per cent is owned by private investors including entrepreneur Neil Utley.

It ends months of speculation over Peel Hunt’s future after KBC put it up for sale last September.

Simon Hayes, chief executive and co-managing partner at the new Peel Hunt said it was “tremendous” to have the uncertainty removed.

He said it was now “business as usual” as Peel Hunt would continue to focus on small and mid-cap companies as when it was KBC-owned.

The decision to sell Peel Hunt followed KBC’s €7bn (£5.94m) emergency aid bailout from the Belgian government in 2008, which it was obliged to repay by divesting assets.

KBC appointed Lexicon Partners to advise on the sale. By July the management had secured the required investment and an estimated 75 per cent of the company’s 126 employees took up the offer of shares.

LEXICON PARTNERS

JOE CHAMBERS

KBC hired corporate finance advisory firm Lexicon Partners in September 2009 to advise on the sale of broker Peel Hunt.

Lexicon, which has offices in New York, Hong Kong and Aberdeen, is an independent boutique advisory firm focused on financial services, utilities, infrastructure and energy. Its client list includes Prudential, HSBC, Aviva and Schroders.

Joe Chambers, a managing director at Lexicon, has specialised in mergers and acquisitions for financial institutions in the UK for the past ten years. He focuses on the asset management and stock broking sectors and has advised on deals such as F&C’s £53.6m acquisition of Thames River Capital this year.

Prior to joining Lexicon in May 2001, Chambers worked at US investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, which was acquired by Credit Suisse First Boston in 2000. There he specialised in mergers and acquisitions in the financial institutions sector.

Prior to Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Chambers worked for the corporate finance division of Natwest Markets for two years, and at Ernst & Young for three years. He has a degree in management science from UMIST and is a chartered accountant.