Stockbroker Beaufort's Collapse Leaves U.K. Small Caps Reeling

(Bloomberg) -- The collapse of Beaufort Securities Ltd. on Friday has left dozens of companies listed on London’s small cap exchange scrambling to find new brokers.

Beaufort, founded in 1992 and based near the “Gherkin” building in the city’s financial district, named PwC administrators. It has 100 staff and oversees 664 million pounds ($744 million) in client assets, PwC said in a statement.

At least 40 companies had issued statements on Beaufort’s fate as of about 1 p.m. in London. Under the rules of the city’s AIM market for growth companies, those that only had one broker or adviser will need to appoint a new firm or face suspension in trading of their shares.

In 2016, Beaufort became aware of “possible issues relating to the suitability of investments” made by its discretionary fund management department, according to its full-year results statement published it June. It wasn’t able to quantify the potential impact of any subsequent losses at that time, it added.

Among those worst affected by Beaufort’s demise is Kibo Mining Plc, a Galway, Ireland-based precious-metals explorer. Kibo has said it hasn’t yet received any proceeds from a share placing carried out by Beaufort, which was intended to raise about 750,000 pounds. The stock fell as much as 13 percent.

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