Top Irish Securities Firm Seeks Buyer After Resignations

Top Irish securities firm Davy put itself up for sale, as the crisis engulfing it continues to reverberate.

The company hired Rothschild & Co as financial adviser to manage the process, the Dublin-based firm said on Thursday. Davy management bought the broker from Bank of Ireland Group Plc in 2006, in a deal valuing the firm at about 350 million euros ($419 million).

At the heart of Irish corporate life, Davy was thrown into crisis after the Irish central bank last week accused it of a “lack of candor” and providing “misleading details” during an investigation. Prime Minister Micheal Martin this week branded Davy’s behavior as a “disgrace,” while Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said he supports a sale.

“It is important to have a stable, well managed, local stockbroking community to support indigenous companies,” he said.

The case involved a consortium of employees, including top executives, buying bonds from a client in a personal capacity, without the customer knowing they were the buyers. Davy was fined 4.13 million euros.

Chief Executive Officer Brian McKiernan resigned on March 6 along with deputy chairman Kyran McLaughlin and head of bonds Barry Nangle. The firm closed its bond desk laying off four staff after Ireland’s debt office stripped it of its primary dealer status.

Davy employs more than 700 people and manages more than 14 billion euros of client assets, according to its website. The company was in a “strong financial position at the end of 2019,” it said in a summary financial statement.

Bank of Ireland Group Plc has already approached Davy about a possible deal, the Irish Times reported this week.

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