Arron Banks steps down in bid to delist the company

Arron Banks

Brightside chief executive Arron Banks is stepping down to lead a private equity bid for the broker and financial services business.

The deal would see Banks, backed by private equity funding, buy out institutional shareholders and take the company private.

And, if he succeeds, Banks has said he will eye up a deal for van broker Autonet.

Banks said: “The background is that we’ve had fabulous results. The last set were cracking, though our share price is down the dumps, along with everybody else’s.

“We’re highly cash generative, have a good balance sheet and we are growing. So the story is very much: take it out of the PLC arena, put it back into private hands and build the business faster and better.”

One of the first things Banks will examine if he successfully delists is a bid for Autonet.

“It would be a very good business to combine with ours,” he said. “We’re much bigger, three times bigger, but it would gives us bulk in all the areas we’re interested in.”

Chairman Martyn Holman will take control of Brightside in the interim. Finance director Paul Chase-Gardener and commercial director John Gannon would stay on in the delisted business.

Brightside’s share price has been hovering around the 20p mark this year, despite a 44% rise in profits. Brightside made an after-tax profit of £9.4m in 2011, up 44% on the £6.5m it made in 2010.

This was on the back of a 22% increase in revenues to £80.4m (2010: £66.2m). Policy sales increased 41% to 444,189 (2010: 339,916).

But the firm is suffering on two fronts: the eurozone crisis and economic downturn has UK share prices down; and it is harder for mid-sized and small-sized listed companies to attract interest from investors.