A round up of news from the region’s finance sector in the past week
Managers of a Birmingham-based investment firm have completed a buyout from the parent group.
Directors of Assura LIFT Holdings have completed an MBO for an undisclosed sum from parent Assura Group.
Assura Group has retained a 15 per cent stake in the company and additional funding for the buyout includes a significant personal investment by Richard Hughes, managing director of Zeus Capital.
The structure of the MBO, led by managing director Elaine Siew and development director David Acklam, comprises 100 per cent of the operational and consultancy businesses, together with 25 per cent of the investments.
Assura LIFT Holdings is one of the country’s leading investors of Local Improvement Finance Trusts (LIFTs).
Ms Siew said: “Assura Group has, in recent years, been divesting non-core operational businesses to concentrate on its primary care property portfolio, and is a leading investor and developer of healthcare premises throughout the UK.
“Whilst continuing to concentrate on the LIFT end of our business, we are looking to expand our property development and consulting activities, focusing on the public sector and the opportunities that will continue to emerge from estate rationalisation.
“Our team works with GPs, primary care trusts, local authorities and other local estate holders to plan, provide and maintain public sector infrastructure to enable the efficient delivery of community services.
“We operate in joint ventures with our shareholders enabling the public sector to derive maximum benefit. In the current austere economic climate local government budgets are under great pressure; and public bodies will be increasingly encouraged to share premises - the resulting optimization of property will create value and assist in meeting the budgetary demands.
Mr Acklam said: “Assura LIFT offers the partnering services and skills that come with working together in public private partnerships for the past five years.
“Structural changes to the NHS, including GPs taking on a broader role, and the demise of PCTs, means the future landscape for primary care is looking very different and there is a great opportunity for us to help the public sector with estate rationalisation,” he said.
Assura LIFT’s latest investment is in the new £22.5 million City of Coventry Health Centre, which is due to open in early 2012 and will meet the needs of GPs and the wider community both now and in the future.
Accountants move across city
Worcester accountancy practice The Richards Sandy Partnership has moved offices as part of its continuing development.
The independent firm of chartered accountants moved from its Edgar Street office and has opened its doors at Worcester’s old Eye Hospital on Barbourne Road.
The grade two-listed building will now be home to The Richards Sandy Partnership’s 15 staff and means the firm’s services are now all under one roof to improve efficiency and accessibility for clients. Director Rob Richards, who is also chairman of the Worcestershire Group of Chartered Accountants (ICAEW), said: “We are thrilled to have moved into our new premises, which will help us to continue to develop the firm while keeping quality service and value for money a top priority.
“Both I and my fellow director Nick Sandy have strong links with Worcester, so we wanted to continue to work from the heart of the city. The grand, old Barbourne Road building, which once housed the city’s Eye Hospital, is now a new, fabulous office for all of our team and we are inviting our clients and fellow professionals to pop in for a coffee and have a look around.”
Practice strikes deal with legal firm
Warwickshire-based accountancy firm Burgis & Bullock has agreed a joint venture deal with a law firm.
Burgis & Bullock, with offices across Warwickshire, said its deal with Leicester firm of tax and charity specialists Kemp Taylor will help to expand its services to existing and new clients.
Sean Farnell a partner at Burgis & Bullock said: “We are looking forward to the opportunity our joint venture brings to building new relationships and the potential to access new markets. Both accountancy firms have excellent and long standing relationships with clients across the East and West Midlands and our mutual support and joint expertise will be a great asset for clients old and new seeking specialist levels of support.”
Kemp Taylor was established in 1980 and advises a variety of mainly owner-managed businesses but specialise in working with charities, covering a range of disciplines in particular outsourcing of administration and accounting functions.
Funding gives hope for finance training
Hopes have been raised in the finance sector that a new Government investment will open up new opportunities for apprenticeships.
The Financial Skills Partnership has been awarded the funds to develop an employer-led Higher Apprenticeship framework to nurture talent in key areas such as banking and insurance.
The Financial Skills Partnership has been granted funding from the Higher Apprenticeship Fund to create initially 270 new vocational opportunities on a par with the first year of a degree. Firms such as HSBC and others have committed to work with FSP on the development of the frameworks to ensure they meet employers’ needs.
Funding was awarded to the Financial Skills Partnership to create a Level 4 Apprenticeship Framework for banking and finance.
Liz Field, chief executive of the Financial Skills Sector, said, “This funding is for the continuation of our ongoing aim to attract new talent to the sector and maintain the UK’s position as a global leader in the financial services sector. Our vision is for the insurance and banking sector to have diverse pathways for development and professionalism with succession plans and career progression in place.
“Following initial guidance from employers, the programmes will meet their needs by providing a training programme for the most needed areas of their businesses, namely in branch management and branch and client relationship management. They will improve customer service and other skills as well as motivation amongst the Higher Apprentices.
“Although many talk of a ‘lost generation’ blighted by the tough job market, now is a great time to join the financial sector. Apprenticeships give a great opportunity to do that.”
The funding was awarded to the Financial Skills Partnership as part of an £18.1 million government funding package to support the development of 19,000 new Higher Apprenticeships in sectors including construction, advanced engineering, insurance and financial services.
Bank funds garden centre deal
A Tamworth garden centre has completed the purchase of a Midland rival after securing funding.
Planters Garden Centre has taken over Bradley Nursery and Garden Centre in Stafford in a deal funded by NatWest.
Following the acquisition the centre will be renamed as Garden King Bradley.
It will be the fourth garden centre in the Planters portfolio. The firm has a centre in Swadlincote operating under the Garden King brand, as well as a centre at Bretby in Staffordshire which is also a Planters unit.
The Midlands structured finance team at NatWest have advanced £1.6 million to effect the acquisition and support investment going into the Bradley operation.
Gerald Ingram, director at Planters Garden Centre said: “We like the strategical fit of Bradleys. Over 21 years we have constantly developed and invested in Tamworth and today we run one of the West Midlands’ largest independent garden centres. Bradleys is also a family operation so we share a similar ethos to gardening and customer service. The acquisition extends our footprint and allows us to develop further for the future from a stronger operational base.”
Nic Hanlon, director, structured finance at NatWest added: “The management team at Planters have a proven track record of running a successful garden centre. They will now benefit from the resulting economies of scale and additional revenue lines.”
Underwriting manager appointed
INK Insurance has announced the appointment of Lee Bayliss as regional underwriting manager.
Mr Bayliss has a wealth of experience having held senior positions with both Primary and Charitis and joins INK to develop its broker proposition in the Midlands.
INK Insurance managing director Mike Smith said: “It is great that INK is attracting quality people like Lee and we are looking forward to developing this region and sharing our ‘one stop solution’ with our Midlands brokers.”
Mr Bayliss will be based at the company’s Temple Point office in Birmingham.
Award for RSM Tenon
RSM Tenon, which has two offices in Birmingham, has been named National Firm of the Year at the British Accountancy Awards 2011.
RSM Tenon’s regional director in the West Midlands Alan Webb said: “Being awarded National Firm of the Year is one of the highest accolades in our industry and I’m delighted that the hard work, determination and vision shown by everyone throughout the company have been recognised by our profession.”