Network IFA Sesame has confirmed it is in talks with Skandia to acquire its Bankhall and Premier Mortgage Services (PMS) businesses.
It says a successful deal would create the largest appointed representative (AR) network in the UK with more than 3,000 individual advisers and the largest directly-regulated service business, supporting more than 1,500 firms.
It adds it would also create the largest mortgage distributor with over £45bn in applications generated in 2008. Bankhall will retain its brand and existing staff.
"Bankhall's brand has long been synonymous with quality," Sesame executive chairman Ivan Martin says.
He adds mounting speculation over the last week, including that loss-making support services provider Bankhall will be acquired for £1, have caused it to go public early. It remains unclear how much Sesame will pay for Bankhall and PMS should a deal be finalised.
An agreement would raise questions about how Sesame, which has members, will successfully incorporate a business which has directly-regulated 'clients'.
But Martin stresses the arrangement would offer advisers "the widest possible choice" of propositions.
He adds networks are well-placed to benefit from changes proposed in the RDR Consultation Paper issued last week.
"[The RDR] makes it clear that significant investment will be required over the next three years. Sesame and Bankhall combined would be in the strongest possible position to make these investments."
The self-styled 'biggest IFA in Britain' was launched in 2003 as the new identity for Misys IFA Services - bringing together under one brand five separate IFA businesses (Countrywide, DBS, Financial Options, IFA Network and Kestrel). It was acquired for £75m by Friends Provident Distribution Holdings in May 2007.
Two months ago, Sesame recruited more than 80% of 150 former Thinc Network adviser firms.
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An added tier of asset management can of course deliver additional benefits for certain investors, writes Graham Bentley - just be sure you can justify it to the regulator and, especially, the client