FinnCap founder speaks out as rival Panmure Gordon swoops on broker


‘It’s MY baby!’: FinnCap founder and the first woman to run a City stockbroker speaks out as rival Panmure Gordon swoops on the firm

  • The founder of FinnCap is observing takeover talks with Panmure Gordon ‘with interest’ as the company she built faces a possible merger with its older rival
  • Sam Smith, the first woman to run a City stockbroker, stepped down as chief executive of FinnCap last month but still owns a near-10 per cent stake

Sam Smith is the founder of FinnCap

The founder of FinnCap is observing takeover talks with Panmure Gordon ‘with interest’ as the company she built over 24 years faces a possible merger with its older rival. Sam Smith, the first woman to run a City stockbroker, stepped down as chief executive of FinnCap last month but still owns a near-10 per cent stake, meaning her support will be crucial in any deal. 

The 48-year-old said she has not been approached by Panmure, which is controlled by controversial former Barclays boss Bob Diamond and run by his sidekick, Rich Ricci. She told the Mail: ‘I am watching with interest to what happens. It is, sort of, my baby. 

If they want to speak to me, I can speak to people. But I think it’s for the current board [to decide].’ Smith handed over to John Farrugia last month but remains an adviser. She added: ‘Old chief executives getting in the way is probably not that helpful.

‘I’m very much, ‘Let’s see what happens.’ It’s a very early-stage approach. I don’t know whether anything is going to happen or not. Let’s see what the price is.’ 

The firm counts other wellknown City figures among its top shareholders, including venture capitalist Jon Moulton with an 11p per cent holding, tech queen Vin Murria with 10.3 per cent and Conservative peer Lord Leigh who holds a 9 per cent stake. 

With Smith, they control just over 40 per cent, making them crucial to the success of the approach from Diamond and Ricci. 

SAM SMITH: THE LOWDOWN 

The first woman to run a City stockbroker, Sam Smith is a true trailblazer in the testosterone-fuelled, fast money world of broking. In 1998, aged 24, she joined investment manager JM Finn and set up its corporate finance business. She was just 33 when she led a management buyout in 2007 to create FinnCap where she took the reins as chief executive. Smith stunned the City over the summer when she said it was time to stand down, which she did last month. Announcing her decision, she said: ‘I have not seen my daughter for five weeks. I think maybe it’s time.’ She added that her departure meant she ‘might even have time to go on an actual date’. Smith took an advisory role at the firm and still holds a near-10 per cent stake. 

Smith said she does not regret her decision to step back. ‘Hearing this news, I think, ‘Oh my god, thank god I’m not the chief executive having to deal with this.’ I know it was the right time [to leave],’ she said. 

A swoop by Panmure would crown a remarkable comeback for Diamond and Ricci, who was parachuted in to run the broker in 2020. 

Ricci’s hiring raised eyebrows as it reunited two controversial figures who left Barclays in disgrace in the wake of the 2008 financial crash. 

The talks between Panmure and FinnCap will also fuel speculation that the slowdown could spark a wave of acquisitions as companies look to bolster their businesses by joining forces. 

‘The market is in a very difficult place,’ Smith said. It comes amid reports that companies in the sector are looking to slash jobs. FinnCap is reported to have made 10 out of its 150 employees redundant while rivals such as Peel Hunt and Numis are also thought to be trimming their numbers.

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