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Ascot Lloyd Bellpenny buys first IFA since £6bn merger

National consolidator Ascot Lloyd Bellpenny has bought Leeds-based Pantheon Financial, its first deal since a £6 billion merger in July last year.

Ascot Lloyd Bellpenny buys first IFA since £6bn merger

Ascot Lloyd Bellpenny has taken over Leeds-based advice firm Pantheon Financial, according to documents uncovered by New Model Adviser®.

It is the firm's first acquisition since a merger between Ascot Lloyd and Bellpenny in July last year created a £6 billion advice business

Companies House filings show that Ascot Lloyd Bellpenny chief executive Nigel Stockton (pictured) and chief financial officer, Matthew Moore, became directors of Pantheon Financial on 22 December 2017.

In addition CPL Bidco Limited, a company registered to the same address as Bellpenny's head office in Reading, and which also lists Stockton and Moore as its only two directors, became a 'person with significant control' at Pantheon Financial on the same date. The document said CPL Bidco has 75% or more of the shares in Pantheon Financial.

It is the second time Pantheon has been bought. In May 2007 life company Friends Provident paid £16.8 million to buy the advice company, with eventual add-ons boosting the value of the deal to £27 million. 

Friends Provident struggled and failed to sell the company on to a private equity group in 2008 and ended up selling the stake it had bought from Kaberry back to the founder in 2010.

Since then New Model Adviser® has reported on claims against Pantheon as well as financial difficulties for the firm. 

In March 2016 New Model Adviser® revealed that an investment by the firm in a biofuel investment scheme had pushed Pantheon into a £3.8 million pre-tax loss in 2014. This remains the last reported profit or loss figure for the company as it has moved to small company accounts since then. 

Later in 2016 New Model Adviser® uncovered a claim against the firm in which a client said poor pension advice had left him £600,000 out of pocket. The advice was given by Anthony Brabin & Co in 1996, a company subsequently bought by Pantheon Financial Management and renamed Pantheon Financial Investments.

Ascot Lloyd Bellpenny did not comment on the deal so it is unclear whether it has taken on liabilities for claims from Pantheon. 

The deal is also a rare acquisition for Bellpenny. Between 2012 and 2015 the consolidator bought 32 advice firms. However since Stockton took over as chief executive in 2015 the company has slowed down the rate of acquisitions.

At the start of 2017 it bought EFG Independent Financial Advisers from Luxembourg bank EFG Investment, before it merged with Ascot Lloyd last July.

Following the merger the two companies appear to have ditched separate branding, with Bellpenny's Twitter page and website now under the name Ascot Lloyd. The company has not commented on the changes yet. 

Ascot Lloyd Bellpenny and Pantheon Financial declined to comment on the sale.

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