Corporate advice mergers and acquisitions boosted by removal of taper relief on capital gains tax

The removal of taper relief on capital gains tax at the end of the 2007/08 financial year has hastened a flurry of mergers and acquisitions in the corporate advice sector.

A number of high profile firms changed ownership before the April 5 deadline, with Advo Group merging with excellenthealth, Axa-owned Thinc buying FS3 and Xafinity acquiring Hazell Carr.

The combined Advo/excellent-health business will trade under the Advo name but will put excellenthealth’s connectedhealth employer risk management service at the heart of its proposition.

Advo says it intends to continue to develop its online technology to launch a dedicated IFA client management system.

There will be a five-strong board of directors comprising Larry Bulmer, chief executive, Michael Payne, personal healthcare Director, Paula Aitken, managing director, Chris McCracken commercial director and former excellenthealth director Colin Boxall in his new role of corporate director. Advo says it will be looking at further acquisitions.

Bulmer says: “This brings together two firms which share a philosophy of giving clients the best possible advice and service. In the increasingly large consolidator-dominated landscape, a thriving firm of our size can offer unique benefits to intermediaries considering selling.”

Southampton-based financial planning firm FS3 has been acquired by Thinc for an undisclosed fee. The business, founded by Mike Godfrey, brings a total of around £100m of funds under management, around £75m of which are managed for 110 high quality personal wealth management clients, with the remainder managed on behalf of corporate clients.

Xafinity says it has purchased Hazell Carr, the specialist business process outsourcing, pension administration, interim resource and Sipp provider in a bid to strengthen its position as a provider of services to the UK private and public sector pension marketplace. The combined group will have revenues in excess of £125 million and around 1,500 employees throughout the UK.

The enlarged business will be led by Tim Robinson, Xafinity’s chief executive. David Carr and Graham Hazell, who founded Hazell Carr, will provide consultancy to the Xafinity board during the integration phase and will step back from their executive responsibilities.

Robinson says: “We have a stated ambition to become the leading force in the UK pensions and benefits marketplace. This transaction brings together two respected brands with long track records of service and delivery and marks an important step towards creating a more consolidated, efficient marketplace. In addition Hazell Carr’s expertise in SSASs and Sipps will accelerate the development of our group Sipp business.”