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A wealth management platform which works with a fifth of Britain’s financial advisers has drawn takeover interest from a blank cheque company set up by Bernard Arnault, one of the world’s richest men.

Sky News has learnt that Pegasus Europe, an Amsterdam-listed special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), was among the parties which tabled bids for True Potential earlier this week.

A deal with Pegasus, which would see True Potential become a publicly traded business for the first time, could value the UK fintech at as much as £2.5bn, according to insiders.

The logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse is seen at its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland March 24, 2021. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
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Credit Suisse has led the process

People close to the process, which is being run by bankers at Credit Suisse, cautioned that Pegasus was only one of several bidders for True Potential.

Others are said to include the private equity firms Cinven and Hellman & Friedman, with at least one other SPAC thought to be involved in the process.

Pegasus, which raised 500m euros in its listing on Euronext Amsterdam in April, has one of the most prominent groups of SPAC sponsors in the world.

Its backers include Bernard Arnault, the controlling force behind the LVMH luxury goods empire, and Jean Pierre Mustier, former chief executive of UniCredit, the Italian bank.

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Diego De Giorgi, a well-known City figure from stints as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, is also involved in Pegasus Europe.

Sources close to the situation said that Pegasus Europe was contemplating mergers with “numerous” targets, and that True Potential was just one of the assets it had tabled offers for.

True Potential, which is headquartered in Newcastle, ran a sale process in 2018 in the hope of drawing bids worth £2bn.

The auction was aborted after failing to attract offers at that level.

Set up in 2007, True Potential is owned by hundreds of individual partners with a minority stake having also been held by FTV Capital, a US-based private equity firm.

The company is controlled by its founder, David Harrison, who remains at the helm as chairman and owns a paper stake likely to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

Mr Harrison previously founded Positive Solutions, which grew into a business representing 1900 IFAs.

True Potential is vertically integrated, meaning it has its own platform and funds.

Last year, the company reported turnover of £185m and earning before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £74m, up 59% on the previous year.

A spokesman for True Potential declined to comment, while Pegasus Europe and Cinven also declined to comment.

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UBS takeover of Credit Suisse: Embattled bank’s chairman describes ‘historic, sad and very challenging’ day

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UBS takeover of Credit Suisse: Embattled bank's chairman describes 'historic, sad and very challenging' day

UBS will take over Credit Suisse in a deal aimed at stemming what was fast becoming a global crisis of confidence.

Credit Suisse, the 167-year-old embattled lender had been brought to the brink of financial calamity last week, despite securing a $54bn (£44bn) credit line from Switzerland’s central bank.

The credit line was agreed upon in a move aimed at reassuring markets and depositors, but it failed to stem a rush of customer withdrawal, prompting a request from the Swiss government for the rival UBS to consider a takeover.

That takeover was announced on Sunday evening – UBS will pay 3bn Swiss francs (£2.6bn) to acquire Credit Suisse, it has agreed to assume up to 5bn francs (£4.4bn) in losses, and 100bn Swiss francs (£88.5bn) in liquidity assistance will be available to both banks.

The deal is expected to be closed by the end of this year.

Colm Kelleher, chairman of UBS Group, said the agreement “represents enormous opportunities”.

He also said that his bank’s long-term aim would be to downsize Credit Suisse’s investment banking business and align it with the “conservative risk culture” of UBS.

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Axel Lehmann, chairman of Credit Suisse, described the day as “historic, sad and very challenging” for his bank and the global market.

‘The best available outcome’

Mr Lehmann said: “Given recent extraordinary and unprecedented circumstances, the announced merger represents the best available outcome.

“This has been an extremely challenging time for Credit Suisse and while the team has worked tirelessly to address many significant legacy issues and execute on its new strategy, we are forced to reach a solution today that provides a durable outcome.”

‘Exceptional situation’

In a statement, the Swiss central bank and other officials said that the agreement represented “a solution…to secure financial stability and protect the Swiss economy in this exceptional situation”.

It is also hoped that UBS’s takeover of its old rival will avoid the contagion of the kind seen in the financial crisis of 2008.

This is a significant deal but huge risks continue to lurk in the global financial system

This combination brings together not only Switzerland’s two biggest banks but two of the most significant financial institutions in the world.

There was reference during the press conference to discussions with Jeremy Hunt, the British chancellor.

That underlines the crucial nature of this deal as governments and financial regulators around the world race to contain the banking sector’s biggest crisis of the last 15 years.

This was always a deal that the Swiss government had resisted. It had been speculated so many times over the last decade, but the Swiss government had always wanted to maintain two national banking champions.

But let’s be clear – all the parties involved in this deal have effectively been strong-armed into it by the crisis of confidence which has erupted at Credit Suisse, and which has been fomenting for some time.

UBS has been effectively strong-armed into doing this deal by the Swiss government, and Credit Suisse has been forced to accept it – there won’t be a shareholder vote on the transaction.

The only alternative to this deal happening was going to be when financial markets opened on Monday in Asia and then in Europe, some form of nationalisation or resolution of Credit Suisse which would have deepened the sense of crisis in the industry.

This government-orchestrated rescue does avert the collapse of a major global bank but while it might be tempting to believe this draws a line under this banking crisis, remember that a week ago HSBC stepped in to buy the British arm of Silicon Valley Bank for £1 after its American parent collapsed, and a number of other mid-sized US banks have been forced to seek emergency support in the last 10 days.

All of this is a sobering reminder that as interest rates risk sharply to combat global inflationary pressures, huge risks continue to lurk in the global financial system.

Central banks insist systems are resilient

The news was welcomed by central banks in the US, Europe and in the UK.

All three insisted that banking systems within their jurisdiction are strong and resilient.

The Bank of England said: “We have been engaging closely with international counterparts throughout the preparations for today’s announcements and will continue to support their implementation.

“The UK banking system is well capitalised and funded, and remains safe and sound.”

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Credit Suisse rescue: What now for the UK’s banks?

A deal likely to ripple through global markets

Credit Suisse is one of the world’s largest wealth managers and is also one of 30 banks ranked as systemically important, meaning the deal is likely to ripple through global markets on Monday.

It is also one of the largest investment banking employers in the City of London, employing around 5,000 people.

In a memo to employees on Sunday, Credit Suisse said there would be no immediate impact on clients or day-to-day working operations, adding that branches and global offices would remain open.

It comes after a difficult few weeks for the banking sector, with the collapse of US lenders Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.

The UK branch of SVB was rescued by HSBC for £1, but a number of other mid-sized American lenders have also been forced to seek emergency funding.

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UBS to take over Credit Suisse, Swiss central bank confirms

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UBS takeover of Credit Suisse: Embattled bank's chairman describes 'historic, sad and very challenging' day

UBS will take over Credit Suisse in a deal aimed at stemming what was fast becoming a global crisis of confidence.

Credit Suisse, the 167-year-old embattled lender had been brought to the brink of financial calamity last week, despite securing a $54bn (£44bn) credit line from Switzerland’s central bank.

The credit line was agreed in a move aimed at reassuring markets and depositors, but it failed to stem a rush of customer withdrawal, prompting a request from the Swiss government for the rival UBS to consider a takeover.

That takeover was announced on Sunday evening – UBS will pay 3bn Swiss francs (£2.6bn) to acquire Credit Suisse, it has agreed to assume up to 5bn francs (£4.4bn) in losses, and 100bn Swiss francs (£88.5bn) in liquidity assistance will be available to both banks.

The deal is expected to be closed by the end of this year.

Colm Kelleher, chairman of UBS Group, said the agreement “represents enormous opportunities”.

He also said that his bank’s long-term aim would be to downsize Credit Suisse’s investment banking business and align it with the “conservative risk culture” of UBS.

More from Business

Axel Lehmann, chairman of Credit Suisse, described the day as “historic, sad and very challenging” for his bank and the global market.

‘The best available outcome’

Mr Lehmann said: “Given recent extraordinary and unprecedented circumstances, the announced merger represents the best available outcome.

“This has been an extremely challenging time for Credit Suisse and while the team has worked tirelessly to address many significant legacy issues and execute on its new strategy, we are forced to reach a solution today that provides a durable outcome.”

‘Exceptional situation’

In a statement, the Swiss central bank and other officials said that the agreement represented “a solution…to secure financial stability and protect the Swiss economy in this exceptional situation”.

It is also hoped that UBS’s takeover of its old rival will avoid the contagion of the kind seen in the financial crisis of 2008.

This is a significant deal but huge risks continue to lurk in the global financial system

This combination brings together not only Switzerland’s two biggest banks but two of the most significant financial institutions in the world.

There was reference during the press conference to discussions with Jeremy Hunt, the British chancellor.

That underlines the crucial nature of this deal as governments and financial regulators around the world race to contain the banking sector’s biggest crisis of the last 15 years.

This was always a deal that the Swiss government had resisted. It had been speculated so many times over the last decade, but the Swiss government had always wanted to maintain two national banking champions.

But let’s be clear – all the parties involved in this deal have effectively been strong-armed into it by the crisis of confidence which has erupted at Credit Suisse, and which has been fomenting for some time.

UBS has been effectively strong-armed into doing this deal by the Swiss government, and Credit Suisse has been forced to accept it – there won’t be a shareholder vote on the transaction.

The only alternative to this deal happening was going to be when financial markets opened on Monday in Asia and then in Europe, some form of nationalisation or resolution of Credit Suisse which would have deepened the sense of crisis in the industry.

This government-orchestrated rescue does avert the collapse of a major global bank but while it might be tempting to believe this draws a line under this banking crisis, remember that a week ago HSBC stepped in to buy the British arm of Silicon Valley Bank for £1 after its American parent collapsed, and a number of other mid-sized US banks have been forced to seek emergency support in the last 10 days.

All of this is a sobering reminder that as interest rates risk sharply to combat global inflationary pressures, huge risks continue to lurk in the global financial system.

Central banks insist systems are resilient

The news was welcomed by central banks in the US, Europe and in the UK.

All three insisted that banking systems within their jurisdiction are strong and resilient.

The Bank of England said: “We have been engaging closely with international counterparts throughout the preparations for today’s announcements and will continue to support their implementation.

“The UK banking system is well capitalised and funded, and remains safe and sound.”

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Credit Suisse rescue: What now for the UK’s banks?

A deal likely to ripple through global markets

Credit Suisse is one of the world’s largest wealth managers and is also one of 30 banks ranked as systemically important, meaning the deal is likely to ripple through global markets on Monday.

It is also one of the largest investment banking employers in the City of London, employing around 5,000 people.

In a memo to employees on Sunday, Credit Suisse said there would be no immediate impact on clients or day-to-day working operations, adding that branches and global offices would remain open.

It comes after a difficult few weeks for the banking sector, with the collapse of US lenders Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.

The UK branch of SVB was rescued by HSBC for £1, but a number of other mid-sized American lenders have also been forced to seek emergency funding.

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John Lewis may end 100% staff ownership to raise investment for ‘transformation’ as job losses loom

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John Lewis may end 100% staff ownership to raise investment for 'transformation' as job losses loom

The retail giant John Lewis may dilute its 100% employee ownership to raise fresh investment.

The change to the partnership model would signal a major departure for the company, which runs the department store chain and Waitrose supermarkets.

The firm warned of job cuts and told staff it will not hand out a bonus for only the second time since 1953 this week after posting an annual loss of £234m as costs soared and sales dipped.

Dame Sharon White, its chairwoman, is in the early stages of exploring a plan to change its mutual structure in an attempt to raise up to £2bn of new investment, according to The Sunday Times.

The group would consider selling only a minority stake and its priority would be to maintain majority employee ownership, the newspaper said.

Any move would have to be voted on by the retailer’s partnership council of about 60 staff.

In the face of tough trading conditions, the firm has been looking to diversify its operations, including a move into the “build to rent” property business.

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At the end of last year it signed a £500m deal with Abrdn, a global investment company, that will help it build 1,000 new homes.

The John Lewis Partnership said: “We’ve always said we would seek partnerships to help fund our transformation and exciting growth plans.

“We’ve done this with Ocado in the past and now with Abrdn.

“Our partners, who own the business, will be the first to hear about any developments.”

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The business includes 329 Waitrose shops

UK’s largest employee-owned business

The business was founded by John Lewis with a small shop on Oxford Street in 1864.

His son, John Spedan Lewis, created the partnership more than 70 years ago as an experiment into a better way of doing business by including staff in decision-making.

The John Lewis Partnership is the UK’s biggest employee-owned business with around 74,000 staff, known as partners.

The group has 34 John Lewis shops and 329 Waitrose shops, along with its retail websites.

In a letter sent to staff last week, Dame Sharon raised the spectre of job losses as part of efforts “to become more efficient and productive”.

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‘Inflationary pressures’

A loss of £78m was recorded for the financial year which ended in January but when exceptional costs were added this reached £234m.

These included the write-down in value of Waitrose stores.

It represented a slump from a £181m profit in the previous year, with John Lewis blaming “inflationary pressures”.

The update came a day after the group appointed turnaround specialist Nish Kankiwala as its first chief executive, in a shake-up of the leadership structure.

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