Sir John Bond weighs in to Kleinwort bid

KLEINWORT Benson, one of the oldest and most august banking names in the City, appears to have a future. Germany&rsquo;s Commerzbank is on the very brink of sealing a deal to sell off the 150-year-old private bank to a tripartite consortium of management and City and private equity backers, it has emerged.<br /><br />City sources said yesterday that a huge number of rival businesses and individuals had expressed an interest in buying Kleinwort Benson, which was acquired by Commerzbank in September as part of its acquisition of Dresdner Kleinwort.<br /><br />But they added that the imminent outcome would almost certainly be a management buyout of the firm, backed by senior figures including Vodafone chairman Sir John Bond and Rolls Royce chairman Simon Robertson, who chaired Kleinwort Benson between 1996 and 1997 before quitting over clashes with then owner Dresdner Bank over strategy.<br /><br />Former Morgan Grenfell chief Sir John Craven is also rumoured to be having a close look at the business.<br /><br />Commerzbank was told by the European Commission to liquidate some of its assets after accepting a &euro;18.2bn (&pound;15.6bn) bailout from the German government. The bank officially has until 2011 to divest Kleinwort Benson.<br /><br />Kleinwort Benson was originally formed in 1961 out of the merger between Robert Benson Lonsdale and Kleinwort, Sons &amp; Co, a business which dates back to the 1850s.