Formerly overstretched Manx Financial Group is looking for takeovers in insurance and banking as it taps investors for £1.8 million.
Steered by chief executive officer Denham Eke, chairman of Betinternet who replaced vehicle insurance luminary Arron Banks at the helm after aggressive expansion led to problems, AIM-quoted Manx Financial is raising £1.8 million at 9p to expand its successful retail banking operations in the Isle of Man and pinpoint acquisition opportunities in banking and insurance. The company, whose 75 year-old Conister Bank Manx-licensed banking arm is headed by ex-Ministry of Defence nuclear weapons programme luminary and former Alliance & Leicester international chief Simon Hull, is heading back towards eventual profitability after slashing losses last year from £18.3 million to £2.6 million.
The bank, supported by an overwhelmingly Manx deposit base, insists it has avoided the toxic lure of fancy derivatives and sub-prime mortgages and is thought by local observers to be achieving margins of 8 per cent and more in asset-based lending to small businesses. Last year, Conister’s card services division cut its losses from £3.5 million to £400,000 and moved into the black in the second half.
Bulls reckon Manx Financial could make as much as £4 million pre-tax in the next financial year, helped by exploiting its Isle of Man tax attractions for rich non-domiciled British clients. Floated at 25p 15 years ago, the shares have had a dreadful history, plunging as low as 6p within the past year, but now at the equivalent of 8.5p, they offer handsome, albeit speculative, recovery possibilities for strong-nerved punters.