Tuesday 19 March 2019

China firm seals €150m Goodbody buyout

Roy Barrett
Roy Barrett
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Goodbody Stockbrokers has concluded a deal to sell the business to Chinese Government-backed suitor Zhong Ze Culture Investment Holdings.

The deal is understood to be worth in the region of €150m.

The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close by the end of the year. The Chinese buyers will take complete ownership of Goodbody from current 51pc owner, Fexco, and Goodbody staff and management who own the balance of the business.

The sides have been locked in talks to acquire Ireland's oldest and second-largest stockbroker since the start of the year.

Goodbody and Zhong Ze, a subsidiary of China's state-owned aerospace, defence and electronics company AVIC, had originally been due to exchange legally binding contracts, known as a heads of agreement, by the start of June.

The Zhong Ze Group is backed in the transaction by Pioneer Century, a privately owned Chinese investment company, and financial adviser, JIC Trust, an asset manager owned by China's sovereign wealth fund CIC. Grant Thornton also advised Zhonge Ze on the transaction. Goodbody Corporate Finance advised Fexco and Goodbody in relation to the transaction.

The sale is subject to approval by the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Agency and the Central Bank of Ireland as Goodbody's regulator.

In a statement, the companies said Goodbody will continue to operate from and be headquartered in Dublin. Managing Director Roy Barrett, pictured, and the senior management team will remain in place. Goodbody will retain its brand and staff and will continue to be regulated here in Ireland. Backing from the Chinese investors will help fund expansion in Ireland and the UK and provide Goodbody's clients access to a new corporate and institutional partnership network in China, Goodbody said.

Goodbody's management are predicted to share about €60m in cash and earn-outs from the takeover.

The business was last sold in the depths of the financial crisis by AIB to Kerry-based Fexco for €24m.

Mr Barrett, who has led Goodbody since 1996, informed staff in February that the merger would not result in job cuts or a strategy change.

Irish Independent

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