“It’s MY baby!”: FinnCap founder and first woman to run a City stockbroker speaks out as rival Panmure Gordon swoops on the firm
- The FinnCap founder is watching Panmure Gordon’s acquisition talks “with interest” as the company she built faces a possible merger with its older competitor
- Sam Smith, the first woman to run a City stockbroker, stepped down as CEO of FinnCap last month but still owns nearly 10 percent of the shares
Sam Smith is the founder of FinnCap
The FinnCap founder is watching Panmure Gordon’s acquisition talks “with interest” as the company she has built over 24 years faces a possible merger with its older competitor. Sam Smith, the first woman to run a City stockbroker, stepped down as chief executive of FinnCap last month but still owns nearly 10 percent of the shares, meaning her support will be vital with any deal.
The 48-year-old said she was not approached by Panmure, which is controlled by controversial former Barclays boss Bob Diamond and run by his pal Rich Ricci. She told the Mail: “I am watching with interest what is happening. It’s sort of my baby.
If they want to talk to me, I can talk to people. But I think it’s for the current board [to decide].’ Smith handed over to John Farrugia last month but remains an advisor. She added: “Old CEOs who get in each other’s way are probably not that helpful.
‘I’m very much, ‘Let’s see what happens.’ It’s a very early stage approach. I don’t know if something will happen or not. Let’s see what the price is.’
The company counts other well-known figures in the city among its top shareholders, including venture capitalist Jon Moulton with an 11 percent stake, tech queen Vin Murria with 10.3 percent and fellow Conservative Lord Leigh with a 9 percent stake.
At Smith, they control just over 40 percent, making them critical to the success of Diamond and Ricci’s approach.
SAM SMITH: THE FACT
The first woman to run a City stockbroker, Sam Smith is a true trailblazer in the testosterone-fueled world of quick bucks. In 1998, at the age of 24, she joined investment manager JM Finn and built its corporate finance business. She was just 33 when she led a management buyout to create FinnCap in 2007, where she took the reins as Managing Director. Smith stunned the city over the summer when she said it was time to step down, which she did last month. Announcing her decision, she said: “I haven’t seen my daughter for five weeks. I think maybe it’s about time.” She added that her departure meant she “might even have time for a real date.” Smith assumed an advisory role in the company and still owns nearly 10 percent of the company.
Smith said she has no regrets about her decision to step down. “When I hear this news I’m like, ‘Oh my god, thank god I’m not the CEO who has to deal with this.’ I know it was the right time [to leave],’ She said.
A swoop by Panmure would cap a remarkable comeback for Diamond and Ricci, who parachuted to manage the broker in 2020.
Ricci’s attitude raised eyebrows as it reunited two controversial personalities who put Barclays out of favor after the 2008 financial crash.
The talks between Panmure and FinnCap will also fuel speculation that the slowdown could trigger a wave of acquisitions as companies look to strengthen their businesses by combining forces.
“The market is in a very difficult position,” Smith said. It comes amid reports that companies in the industry are looking to cut jobs. FinnCap has reportedly laid off 10 of its 150 employees, while competitors such as Peel Hunt and Numis are also said to be cutting their numbers.