Zedra to acquire Barclays’ UK trust business

Zedra, the corporate, trust and fund services provider that was created earlier this year from a majority share of the non-UK and offshore trust business of UK banking giant Barclays, is to acquire Barclays’ UK trust business as well.

The deal, which will see Barclays continue to hold a minority stake in the expanded entity, is subject to regulatory approval, Zedra said in a statement today.

The purchase price wasn’t disclosed.

As reported here in January, Barclays retained a 19.9% stake in Zedra at the time it sold the original tranche of its trust business to a group of investors headed up by individuals from the Nielsen and Sarikhani families, thus creating the business now known as Zedra.

In its statement today, Zedra said that when completed, the acquisition would increase its size by around a quarter – giving it 10 offices worldwide, a headcount of more than 400, and put it “well on its way” to achieving its stated aim of doubling in size in less than five years.

At the same time, it added, the acquisition would “open up important new business opportunities for the group in the UK”.

‘Criteria satisfied’

Akshaya Bhargava, chief executive of Barclays Wealth, Entrepreneurs and Business Banking, said that in Zedra, Barclays believed that it had “found a buyer that satisfies our core criteria of being able to maintain exceptional service for our clients, is able to integrate and enhance the careers of our colleagues, and has demonstrated a commitment to taking this business forward”.

He added: “Following the sale of the Barclays offshore trust and fiduciary business in January, Barclays already holds a minority stake in Zedra, which demonstrates Barclays’ interest in the ongoing success of this business, and its commitment to supporting continuing relationships with clients and the advisory community.”

As reported, the interest in acquiring the Barclays’ trust businesses on the part of the Nielsen and Sarikhani families stemmed from their earlier experiences in the building and operating of financial services businesses in the trust, financial planning, tax and advisory sectors.

Niels Nielsen, for example, who heads up Zedra as chief executive out of the company’s London offices, previously founded Azure Trust, a Jersey-based investment fund house, which was merged into Zedra at the time it was created.

In today’s statement, Nielsen, pictured above, left, with Bart Deconinck, Zedra’s group deputy chairman, said the acquisition of Barclays UK trust business was “an important strategic” one for the company, and marked “another step in our growth plan”, which he said aims to achieve a “balanced and global” offering for the firm’s clients.

Zedra currently has more than 300 employees, and operates out of offices in Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, the Cayman Islands, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Singapore, the UK and Switzerland. It says it caters for a “diverse client base, including high-net-worth individuals and their families, international corporations, institutional investors and entrepreneurs”.

The name “Zedra” doesn’t mean anything in any language, and was chosen in part for this reason, a company spokesman said.

The sale of the Barclays trust business followed a Barclays announcement last year that it intended to dispose of it, 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.

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