Tory peer takes swipe at FCA over brokers’ merger approval

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A senior Tory peer has taken a swipe at the City watchdog over its timetable for approving the merger of two prominent London stockbrokers.

Lord Leigh of Hurley, a key figure in Conservative fundraising circles and a veteran banker, accused the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) of acting as “a block on economic growth” during a House of Lords exchange on the Financial Services and Markets Bill, which gained Royal Assent this week.

Sources said on Friday that Lord Leigh had been obliquely referring to the FCA’s approach to clearing the combination of finnCap and Cenkos, which announced plans to merge in March.

Tory peer takes swipe at FCA over brokers' merger approval
Lord Leigh of Hurley. Pic: UK Parliament

The peer is senior partner at Cavendish Corporate Finance, which was acquired by finnCap in 2018.

One market source said the tie-up with Cenkos was unlikely to gain formal approval for several more months.

“There is huge frustration still at the FCA at the time taken to progress transactions and the time taken to execute transactions, being a significant block on economic growth, which is one of the objectives the FCA will now have,” Lord Leigh told peers on Thursday.

He asked for Treasury ministers to “ensure the FCA are aware of their new objectives and requirements and that this actually takes place in practice”.

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In the original announcement about the deal, the companies said: “Taking into account the FCA approval timetable, the scheme is currently expected to become effective during the third calendar quarter of 2023,” suggesting that date may yet be achieved.

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The merger of finnCap and Cenkos was announced a difficult market for mid-sized London broking firms, with a dearth of public company listings impacting their revenues.

The FCA has been contacted for comment.

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