Zedra completes acquisition of Jersey’s Azure

Zedra, the trust and fiduciary specialist that was created by the purchase of a majority stake of Barclays’ trust business by a group of investors, said it has completed its acquisition of another Jersey trust and corporate and fund services entity, the Azure Trust Group.

Azure will be merged into Zedra’s existing Jersey team, resulting in the creation of an island business with more than 120 people, Zedra said in a statement on Thursday.

Zedra is based in Luxembourg, and in addition to that office and Jersey, has outposts in Guernsey, the Isle of Man, the Cayman Islands, Singapore, the UK and Switzerland. The Jersey office, though, is its largest, according to Zedra.

Earlier this month, Zedra announced plans to open an office in Hong Kong, as part of a plan to expand its presence in the region. That office is now open, and is headed up by John Ashwood, managing director of the Hong Kong operation.

Zedra originally revealed its intention to absorb Azure back in January, when, as reported, the acqusition of the Barclays trust business and consequent creation of Zedra was unveiled. Barclays originally announced its plans to sell the trust operation last June, following an internal strategic review.

The bank, like many of its sector rivals, has been getting out of under-performing businesses in recent years in order to focus on core operations.

At that time, Zedra said Barclays would retain a 19.9% stake in the newly-formed business.

The price the investors group – which is headed up by individuals from the Nielsen and Sarikhani families, who have experience in building and operating financial services businesses in the trust, financial planning, tax and advisory sectors – paid for the Barclays trust business that formed the nucleus of Zedra wasn’t disclosed.

Heading up Zedra as chief executive is Niels Nielsen, pictured left, who founded Azure Trust; Bart Deconinck, pictured right, is group deputy chairman.

Deconinck had been one of the original founders of Vistra Group, and headed it up as chairman and chief executive during a time when it grew to become one of the world’s largest corporate services providers. Last year Baring Private Equity Asia acquired a majority stake in that business, which had been earlier merged with Asia-based corporate services provider OIL by IK Investment Partners, the UK private equity firm that had acquired it in 2009.

Key Azure execs staying on

Alan Tidy, Azure’s managing director, and his executive team will continue to manage the Azure client relationships, and Alan will become an executive director of Zedra.

Ashley Cox, managing director of Zedra’s Jersey operations, will head  up the expanded and integrated Jersey team, Zedra said.

Zedra Group CEO Nielsen said that the group’s founders had known that Azure “would be a perfect fit” for the organisation they were planning to create, and added: “We have made excellent progress against our strategic objectives, and integrating Azure into the group supports our ambitions to strengthen and expand the services we offer to clients, and our capacity to deliver.”

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