First Names Group to acquire Mercator in Guernsey

07 January 2014

Growing financial service providers, the First Names Group has announced that Guernsey-based trust, funds and corporate services provider Mercator has become the group's latest acquisition.

The acquisition of Mercator (which remains subject to regulatory approval) will significantly expand the group's presence in the Channel Islands. This is the fourth acquisition for the group since its management buyout in July 2012 from IFG Group plc and its rebrand in early 2013. Boutique fund services business Moore Management, international trust and corporate services providers Basel and Citadel were purchased in January, July and December of last year respectively.

The transaction complements the group's existing offering the firm said, as the trust and corporate services business will be integrated into First Names Group whilst Mercator's funds business will be incorporated into the Moore brand. Once the acquisition completes, the group will have in excess of 520 staff across nine locations. Mercator will begin operating under the new brands towards the middle of the year.

Mercator, which is independently owned, provides professional services for private client, corporate, fund services and managed trusts. It has a history going back over 30 years when the fiduciary business of Chandlers Chartered Accountants expanded and developed independently, becoming Mercator in the 1990s.

In terms of Guernsey management, David Preston will continue as the Managing Director of the trust and corporate business and Director Mark Douglas will remain in charge of the fund services business, operating under the Moore brand, post completion. 

Morgan Jubb, Chief Executive at First Names Group, said: "We have been very interested in acquiring in Guernsey for some time and Mercator is perfect for us both commercially and culturally.  We have successfully integrated the Basel business into our brand and culture and are committed to investing in the people, platforms and processes needed to support our objectives. I am naturally delighted with the success achieved so far in our acquisition strategy, in terms of economies of scale and increased market share."

Carey Olsen advised First Names Group on the acquisition. The pan-island team was led by partners Tom Carey in Guernsey and Mike Jeffrey in Jersey and included senior associate Alison MacKrill and associates John Scanlan and Alex Wilson in Guernsey. The London office of King Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin, led by Martin Bowen, was lead English counsel.

Mr Carey said: "This has been a particularly interesting transaction in which to be involved as we were able to draw on our experience of regulated business M&A transactions across both Jersey and Guernsey to deliver an integrated service to First Names Group."

Carey Olsen had previously advised the owners of Basel Group when it was acquired by First Names Group.

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