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Icelandic bid for Singer likely soon – analyst

UK – Iceland’s Kaupthing bank, which has made a series of European acquisitions since 1998, is likely to make a bid for UK asset management company Singer & Friedlander soon, an Icelandic analyst has said.

“We did and we still do expect Kaupthing to make a bid anytime now in the coming days or weeks,” said Jonas Fridthjofsson of Íslandsbanki. “We think it would be a good buy for Kaupthing and strengthen their position in the UK.”

Reykjavik-based Kaupthing took its shareholding in the London firm to 19.53% in February – and last week its cross-town rival Burdaras raised its stake to 9.4%.

“We have no comment to make on speculation,” Singer’s finance director and chief operating officer Tony Shearer told IPE. Shearer is set to take over from chief executive John Hodson, who last week said he would stand down after 12 years in the job.

Kaupthing’s UK managing director Helgi Bergs was not available for comment and Zoe Shaw, head of Kaupthing’s London-based New Bond Street Asset Management arm, was not able to comment.

Singer reported last week that institutional assets under management have fallen to 0.7 billion pounds from 0.8 billion pounds at the end of 2003.

Kaupthing chairman Sigurdur Einarrson said in February: “We see good value in Singer & Friedlander. We intend to be a supportive shareholder and look forward to developing a constructive relationship with Singer & Friedlander's Board.'

The London firm said it looked forward to developing such a relationship with Kaupthing as a significant shareholder in the group. But it said it saw a “strong future” as an independent group.

“It is confident that this policy will add value for all its shareholders, clients and staff, as it has in the past.”

At the end of 2003 Kaupthing had operations in 10 countries. Its website outlines its expansion since 1998, when it set up operations in Luxembourg. In September 2003 it bought Norwegian asset management company, Tyren Holding AS.

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