Broker calls in consultants to refocus the company as independent

Heath Lambert faces a major business review that could lead to parts of the business being sold off as part of a radical restructuring.

Chief executive David Margrett was the first to go when the company's financial backers relaunched the broker after scrapping plans to sell it.

Margrett presided over an aborted flotation - scotched last year because of the fall in world stock markets - and takeover talks with Marsh that fell through in August.

Now led by executive chairman Ian Martin, Heath Lambert called in PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) to help it draw up a new business plan and renegotiate its financial foundations.

Martin said it had retained the backing of its main banker, Royal Bank of Scotland.
The roles of its main investors, including Phoenix Equity Partners, Candover Investments, Electra Partners and Advent, who together owned 30% of the company, had been "realigned".

Heath Lambert would now turn away from attempts to repay its backers through a sale or flotation and set a course based on being an independent company.

Martin spoke of examining costs and hinted that Heath Lambert was likely to sell businesses.

"Our intention is to move forward and build a company as an independent company, refocus it, improve our efficiency, [and] make sure our cost structure is as good as and better than our competitors.

"We are not going forward with a great corporate acquisition strategy."
He added that "refocusing" would mean "deciding whether there are small or medium parts of the portfolio that we would scrutinise".

Asked if this meant selling off, he repeated: "Scrutinise." He added: "We have to look at everything. We regard it as a new business."

The management shake-up brought in Adrian Colosso to become UK managing director from his post as head of global broking.

Mike Bruce, UK chief operating officer, and Surinder Beerh, managing director for overseas, would help Colosso with day-to-day management.