Monday, 13 November 2017 12:11

SIPP provider buys QROPS firm as shares suspended

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Shares in SIPP provider STM Group were suspended from the AIM market today at 7.30 am as the group - whose chief executive was arrested in October - announced an acquisition.

Ordinary shares in the company were trading at 53.5p when they were suspended this morning as the company announced it was acquiring Malta-based Harbour Pensions, a retirement scheme and QROPs provider with 1,600 members and revenues last year of £1.1m.

STM Group’s board voiced its support for chief executive Alan Kentish last month following his arrest in Gibraltar over allegations related to a tax dispute and alleged failure to disclose the proceeds of crime.
In October STM said that on Thursday 19 October Mr Kentish was arrested by the Royal Gibraltar Police on an allegation of failure to disclose under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2015. The arrest came approximately two years after STM filed two Suspicious

Activity Reports to the Royal Gibraltar Police during a tax dispute with a client.

The board of STM said it was “fully supportive” of Mr Kentish's actions in relation to the matter and was “profoundly disappointed” with the situation. Directors said they were confident the matter would be resolved in Mr Kentish's favour in the near future.

The company said that in November 2015 the ‘ultimate beneficial owner’ of a client, who has been a client of STM for over 15 years, became involved in a tax dispute for the years 2008 to 2013.

The company, which bought UK SIPP provider London & Colonial last year, said that at the time the dispute arose Mr Kentish followed compliance procedures in filing two relevant Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) with STM's Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO), both of which were supplied by the MLRO to Gibraltar’s Financial Intelligence Unit.

Commenting on the acquisition of Harbour Pensions today, Mr Kentish said: "Harbour is a good solid business and the acquisition by STM is a win-win for all parties, giving a sensible exit route for the existing shareholders whilst at the same time ensuring that their existing QROPS members are well looked after going forward.

"As predicted, the QROPS landscape in Malta and Gibraltar was always going to change significantly post March 2017 UK budget announcement. The STM executive continues to seek other consolidation opportunities in the QROPS market."

The acquisition of Harbour is subject to regulatory approval by the Malta Financial Services Authority. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed but STM said the acquisition will be funded from existing cash reserves.

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