Deals and IPOs

Ex-Barclays chief Diamond returns to City of London in historic broker buyout

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Former Barclays Chief Executive Bob Diamond has announced that he is returning to the City with a risky buyout swoop on broking house Panmure Gordon.

The bid was made jointly with the struggling City broker's 43 percent shareholder, QInvest - the investment vehicle of the Qatari royal family - and confirmed on Friday morning following a detailed leak on Thursday evening.

Although the 100 pence per share offer signals what appears to be a generous 64.1 percent premium to Thursday's closing price, this is in the context of a stock that has shed a whopping 95 percent of its value since the financial crisis.

The venerated institution first swung open its doors in 1876 and retains a strong brand name despite pressures in recent years from increased regulation, dwindling commissions and a tougher competitive climate. The investment bank and corporate broker has also cited concerns that Brexit-related uncertainty will continue to harm business prospects as small and mid-cap companies sit tight on potential dealmaking and stock market debuts, before getting further clarity over the role of the City of London in a post-Brexit world.

Panmure Gordon valued at £15.5 million in takeover offer

A comment within the offer document from Diamond's investment vehicle, Atlas, affirmed the group's belief that once private, a turnaround of the company to create a larger boutique investment bank would be possible, aided by the target's established reputation and shielded from the pressures of the public markets.

Diamond, was forced to resign as head of Barclays in 2012 following a scandal and hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of settlements with U.S. and domestic authorities over charges that the British banking behemoth had manipulated LIBOR, the interest rate used as a benchmark by some of the world's leading banks for short-term loans.

The deal marks the high profile financier's second European financial services venture within a month. During February, Atlas snapped up the Greek consumer finance wing of French investment bank, Crédit Agricole, in an apparent bid to position the vehicle to invest in soured Greek bank loans once they hit the market, as they are expected to do in coming years.

Diamond's appetite for tricky financial services turnaround situations is notably undiminished despite the rocky road travelled in recent years with his Atlas Mara venture focused on acquiring stakes in African banks. Its troubled trajectory since its 2014 launch has seen some shareholders nursing losses of around 80 percent, the recent exodus of its chairman and chief executive and a rapid fire capital raise from existing shareholders last month.

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