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Financial Services - 2003






















Northern Venture Managers, the Newcastle-based venture capital fund manager, has undergone a £3m management buy-out from Aberdeen Asset Management.

NM Rothschild is seeking acquisitions to expand its private banking division, and aims to recruit up to 80 additional bankers over the next few years.

Halifax Card Services is to recruit 150 additional staff at its credit card customer service centre in Cardiff over the next three months.

Nicholsons, the accountancy firm with 60 staff in Lincoln and Newark, is to relocate its Lincoln staff to the new £6m Point office park next year.

Watson Burton, the Newcastle-based law firm, is to relocate to a new £20m office at St James' Gate in June, with the creation of 60 new jobs.

Seymour Pierce is to withdraw from fund management with the termination of a contract between its Pavillion division and MGM Assurance.

Abbey National has sold Royal Saint Georges, its French mortgage business with 66 staff, to General Electric for £39m.

Ofex is to raise £1m in a share placing to fund the development of a quote-driven share trading system.

Coutts is to open new private banking offices in Essex and Suffolk over the next 15 months.

Beckett Group is to expand its financial services business in Bury St Edmunds with the creation of 45 new jobs over the next two years, and is also planning to seek new premises in the town.

Barclays is recruiting a further 30 staff to start work at its call centre in Sunderland in February, while 70 are due to start in January.

Rathbones has acquired three investment management companies - Astonlake, Dalenorth and Trendon - for a total £0.8m.

Alan Boswell Group is to increase the 100-strong workforce at the Norwich head office of its insurance and financial services business.

Berkeley Burke has acquired Macartney & Dowie, the Romford-based insurance broker with eight staff, for undisclosed terms.

Man Group is looking to expand its equities research and brokerage division by recruiting analysts and sales teams from banks and other institutions.

The Inland Revenue is to set up a Tax Credits call centre at the Balliol Business Park in North Tyneside early next year, with the creation of 500 jobs.

Hill Dickinson and Bullivant Jones are to merge, creating a combined Merseyside-based law firm with 112 partners and 675 staff.

Lehman Brothers of the US is to acquire Preferred Mortgages, the provider of home loans to borrowers with poor credit ratings, from Barclays Private Equity and Rotch Group.

National Savings is to close the former Post Office savings account and transfer of up to 13m customers to a new account, and several hundred staff are being recruited in Glasgow to handle the change.

Travelex is to acquire Camrail, the Belgian foreign exchange and money transfer company, for £2.5m.

Esure is to expand its insurance call centre operations in Manchester, with the creation of about 500 jobs.

Its4me is to recruit 10 more staff at its car insurance call centre in Norwich, and the 100-strong workforce is expected to double over the next two years.

Satterthwaite Brooks & Pomfret has merged with Bridgegate Corporate Finance, creating a combined accountancy firm with nine partners and 40 staff at offices in Bootle and Liverpool.

Bibby Financial Services has acquired Abbey National's factoring business, which will involve the transfer of £32m worth of assets controlled from sites in Leeds and Poole.

Jardine Lloyd Thompson has acquired the aviation insurance business of Heath Lambert for £9.4m, which will involve the transfer of 60 staff.

Lee Crowder and Cobbetts are planning to merge to create a combined law firm with 685 staff, and there are plans to create more than 100 jobs at a new office in Birmingham over the next three years.

The Inland Revenue is planning to set up a tax credit division at the former Motorola site in Bathgate, with the creation of 500 new jobs and the relocation of 300 staff from Livingston.

Clydesdale Bank is considering plans to relocate back-office jobs from Scotland to countries such as India, Malaysia and Bangladesh.

The Money Centre is planning to increase the workforce at its new property finance office in High Wycombe from eight to 62 within two years, and is also looking to open new offices in Windsor, Sheffield and Leeds.

Norwich & Peterborough Insurance Brokers has acquired TS Reeder & Sons, the Cromer-based general insurance firm.

Drakes Group has raised £4m from Lloyds Acquisition Finance to fund the expansion of its debt-collection business.

WH Ireland has acquired Ingram Phillips, the Cardiff-based independent financial adviser, for up to £1.3m.

Park Group is to acquire the North East and North West operations of Mirfield Financial Services for £2.3m, in order to add about 9,000 new customers to its cash lending business.

Cox Insurance has acquired Bennetts UK, the Worcester-based insurance broker with 20 branches, for £4.5m.

Ault Insurance Brokers is seeking acquisitions to expand its West Bromwich-based insurance business, which currently employs 31 staff.

Universe Group is to raise £3.4m in a rights issue to fund the expansion of its loyalty cards and payment systems business.

Allianz Cornhill is expanding its insurance claims centre in Bristol, having opened a new office for 63 staff in Baldwin Street.

Catlin of Bermuda is seeking permission from the Financial Services Authority to open an insurance office in the UK.

Barclays Capital is planning to expand its business in continental Europe with the creation of about 250 investment banking jobs next year, and is particularly interested in France, Italy and Portugal.

AFA Systems has acquired Strategic Asset Management Solutions, the provider of business solutions systems and services to asset management companies, for £1.2m.

King & Shaxson is to acquire Swiss Life Asset Management for undisclosed terms, which will involve the transfer of 12 staff.

Kilminster Partnership is to recruit 20 advisers at its new financial services office in Nottingham, and a further 200 jobs will be created in a nationwide expansion programme.

Bradford & Bingley has acquired a £106m loan portfolio from the GMAC subsidiary of General Motors, as part of a strategy to expand its mortgage business.

HBOS is planning a multi-million pound refurbishment programme at its historic Edinburgh headquarters, which houses 150 staff.

HSBC has acquired Bank of Bermuda for £770m, as part of a strategy to expand its private banking and fund administration operations.

Travelex is planning to expand its foreign exchange business into India, starting with two offices in Mumbai.

HBOS is to launch a new online insurance business aimed at higher premium car drivers called First Alternative, with the creation of 200 jobs at an operations centre in Manchester.

Baker Tilly is to relocate its Newcastle-based accountancy operations and 100 staff to a 14,000 sq ft unit at the £80m St James Gate development.

Lloyds TSB is to sell its NBNZ Holdings banking and insurance subsidiary in New Zealand to Australia & New Zealand Banking Group for £2.3bn.

SP Holdings has acquired Provisor Global Search, the human resources consultancy, as part of a strategy to create a nationwide financial services operation.

Barclays Bank has acquired Gerrard Management Services, the private client wealth manager, from Old Mutual for £210m.

Tullett Liberty has completed the acquisition of Starsupply Energy Limited, the London-based independent broker of crude and petroleum products, in a £4.9m deal.

Royal & Sun Alliance has sold its Sequence UK estate agency business to the Connells subsidiary of the Skipton Building Society.

Svenska Handelsbanken is planning to double the size of its UK business over the next two years, increasing the number of bank branches to 20.

Huntswood Outsourcing has secured a £11m venture capital investment from 3i, in order to expand its outsourcing service to the retail financial services industry.

Caledonia Investments is to invest £15m in a new business called Oval, in order to create a network of regional insurance brokers.

Bentley Jennison has acquired Waddingtons, the Bristol-based accountancy firm, creating a combined office with 100 staff.

Ernst & Young is to sell its network of nine independent financial advisers to Cavanagh Group of West Sussex for £4.2m, which will involve the transfer of 120 jobs.

Proactive Sports is to acquire Kingsbridge Asset Management, the provider of financial advice to sportsmen and women, for £2m.

Vantis has acquired the non-audit business of Wheawill & Sudworth London for up to £4.2m, which will involve the relocation of seven partners and their support staff.

Skipton Building Society is seeking permission to set up a new support centre for its Homeloan Management mortgage business in Burnley, with the creation of up to 500 jobs.

Royal Bank of Scotland's Coutts Bank subsidiary is to acquire Bank von Ernst, the Switzerland-based private banking division of Bayerische Hypo-und Vereinsbank, for £228m.

Reeves & Neylan has sold its Norwich-based accountancy operation to management for undisclosed terms, creating a new firm called Argents.

Lloyds TSB is to sell part of its Brazilian business to HSBC for £490m, including its consumer lending operation and Banco Multiplo.

Merchant Investors, the Bristol-based life assurer with 130 staff, has been sold by Allianz to Sanlam of South Africa for undisclosed terms.

Wragge, the law firm, is planning to expand its workforce from 1,000 to 1,750 by 2008, including 1,500 in Birmingham and 250 in London.

Royal & Sun Alliance has sold its mortgage insurance business to PMI Group of the US for a nominal sum.

Royal Bank of Scotland is acquiring First Active, the Dublin-based mortgage lender, for £617m, creating a combined chain of 263 branches across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Barnetts Solicitors has started to recruit 100 additional staff at its Southport-based conveyancing division.

Bradford & Bingley is to acquire Douglas Duff, the commercial surveying firm, for undisclosed terms.

Bond Pearce, the law firm, is considering plans to set up a new 60,000 sq ft office at Temple Quay in Bristol.

Smart & Cook has acquired the insurance broking business of Adams Financial Services of Lincolnshire.

Kingsbridge Holdings has sold Benson McGarvey and its Shakeit subsidiary to management for an initial £0.2m.

Dipford is to acquire Dowling Kerr, the national business transfer agency with offices in Holmfirth and Luton, for up to £2.1m.

Dickinson Dees, the law firm, is to set up a new office at Trinity Gardens in Newcastle upon Tyne in 2005, and expects to create up to 200 jobs over the next few years.

Lloyds TSB has announced plans to outsource more of its back office operations to India, with the creation of 1,400 jobs by the end of next year.

Cooper Parry, the business adviser, is to relocate to a new £2m office at Pride Park in Derby in May 2004.

Esure is to create a further 250 sales and customer services jobs at its insurance call centre in Glasgow over the next six months.

Bradford & Bingley is to acquire Aitchison & Colegrave, the Scottish firm of independent financial advisers with four offices, for undisclosed terms.

Royal Bank of Scotland is to acquire Thistle Group, the US holding company for the Roxborough Manayunk Bank, for £81m.

IW Economic Partnership has announced that Island Call is planning to establish an insurance administration centre at the Prince Consort building in Ryde, with the creation of up to 30 jobs.

Standard Life Bank is recruiting an additional 100 staff at its call centre in Edinburgh, following a rise in mortgage lending.

Yorkshire Enterprise, the Leeds-based venture capital consultancy, has been acquired by management, following the withdrawal of five local authorities.

Abbey National is to sell its mortgage operation in Italy to Unicredito for £46m, and is also in negotiations to sell a similar business in France.

Aberdeen Asset Management is to sell its Asset Value Investors subsidiary, which manages a number of funds for institutional clients, to management.

McKeags is to create about 50 new jobs at its solicitors' office in Newcastle-upon-Tyne by the end of the year, following an increase in demand for property conveyancing.

The Claims People has acquired CCS Global, the loss-adjusting division of Axis Global UK, for £0.4m.

Aberdeen Asset Management is to acquire Edinburgh Fund Managers for £36m, and will sell on contracts to manage retail fund assets to New Star Asset Management for £33m.

Freeth Cartwright, the Nottingham-based solicitor, is to relocate its commercial operations to a new 48,000 sq ft office in Maid Marian Way in November, including a library and training centre for 270 staff.

Marks & Spencer is to create about 200 new jobs at its financial services division in Chester, in preparation for the launch of a combined credit and loyalty card.

Johnston Carmichael is opening an office in Glasgow, as part of a strategy to expand its accountancy business outside its Aberdeen heartland.

Experian is creating 200 jobs at a new customer service centre in Preston over the next few months, in order to handle a contract from Marks & Spencer Financial Services.

Prudential is planning to spend £100m a year expanding its life assurance operations in Asia, and hopes to open branches in 16 Chinese cities.

Advantage West Midlands is considering plans to invest £3.2m in a new regional stock exchange for Birmingham, and a tender is expected to be issued later this year to find a supplier for the trading system.

Norwich Union is to expand its main Regent House office in Leicester and relocate 35 insurance staff from Charles Street.

Futurity of Edinburgh is planning to make a series of acquisitions to expand its financial advice business across Scotland.

Impax Group is to raise £2.3m in a share placing to fund the expansion of its financial services and asset management business.

Royal Bank of Scotland has sold its NCB stockbroking division in Ireland to management for undisclosed terms.

Swiss Life is to sell its UK-based group income protection and critical illness division to UnumProvident of the US, with the loss of a significant number of the 250 jobs at its Liverpool office.

Coutts is considering plans to open private banking branches in Liverpool, Newcastle and other northern cities.

Bright Finance is creating 50 jobs at a new headquarters on the Sheffield 35A business park, in order to benefit from rising demand for its loans and mortgages.

Moneysupermarket is planning to expand its online financial services business in Flintshire with the creation of about 200 jobs.

Abbey National is to invest £5.5m in the expansion of its customer enquiries call centre in Belfast over the next two years, with the creation of about 150 jobs.

Charles Stanley is to acquire the Nothing Ventured online share dealing service and part of a private client brokerage from Durlacher for up to £4.5m.

Vantis has raised £2.6m in a share placing to fund the development of its accountancy and professional services business.

Hastings Direct is looking to recruit a further 100 staff at its insurance call centre and various other departments in Bexhill.

WH Ireland has acquired Carr Sheppards Crosthwaite's private client investment management and stockbroking business in Cardiff.

Standard Chartered has bought 20twenty, the South African online bank, out of liquidation.

Numerica has acquired Forbes Dawson, the Manchester-based tax consultancy, for £0.7m.

Centrica has agreed to sell the Goldfish credit card and personal loans business to Lloyds TSB in a £112m deal.

Brit Insurance has sold Peoples Choice Europe, the telesales personal lines insurance broker, to Hastings Insurance Services for £7.2m.

Royal Bank of Scotland has acquired Community Bancorp, the Massachusetts-based bank with ten branches, for £69m.

Berkeley Berry Birch has acquired MacRobins, the insurance broker and employee benefits company, for an initial £0.7m.

Insure-Shop has acquired Birstall-based K&M Lee Insurance, taking its national network to 21 branches.

Lloyd's of London is planning to set up an onshore reinsurance office in China.

Charles Stanley has acquired EBS Management, EBS Pensioneer Trustees and EBS Self, in order to expand its business setting up pension schemes for individuals and small companies.

Hawkpoint has secured a £10m equity investment from Mezzanine Management to fund the expansion of its corporate advisory business.

Jardine Lloyd Thompson has acquired Thomas Winter, the insurance broker with 44 staff at offices in Marlow and Glasgow, for £3.5m.

Abbey National is to relocate its Cater Allen private banking office from Romford to Sheffield and Bradford next spring, which will involve the creation or transfer of up to 215 new jobs.

St Modwen is to let out the spare space at the former Goodyear offices in Wolverhampton to financial services company Promise Solutions, with the creation of 120 jobs.

Integrated Asset Management is to acquire the UK hedge fund operations of Appleton International, for £1.5m.

Harvey Ingram Owston has acquired the Birmingham-based motor claims team from law firm Wragge & Co, and 16 staff will relocate to new offices in St Pauls Square later this month.

Derbyshire Building Society is to merge with the Clay Cross Building Society, giving Derbyshire one extra branch and adding £22m to its assets.

Corries Solicitors is to create up to 70 jobs in York, having won a £4m contract to handle claims for Advance Claims Management.

Britannic is to sell its Britannic Money lending division to Solihull-based Paragon Mortgages for £19m.

Egg is looking to recruit 40 new staff at its internet banking business in Derby, and will open a new building at the Pride Park site over the next two months.

London Clearing House is to merge with Clearnet, creating a combined securities clearing house valued at £830m and called LCH Clearnet.

HBOS is to invest in a new specialist motor insurance business being set up by the founder of Direct Line, in order to target high net worth and non-standard car drivers.

Portman Building Society is to acquire the Staffordshire Building Society for undisclosed terms, gaining 42 branches and a wider product range.

Fairplace Consulting has acquired Eris, the Italian provider of outplacement services, for £0.7m.

Zurich Financial Services is planning to sell Threadneedle Asset Management to American Express for £340m, enabling Amex to expand its London-based money management operations.

Tilney is to acquire SG Investment Management, the former Strauss Turnbull private client business with funds under management of £700m, from SG Hambros.

The Inland Revenue is expected to create 170 new jobs at a call centre to be built by Landmark Development Projects next to Bradford Interchange, while 230 jobs will be relocated from its existing site nearby.

Royal Bank of Scotland is to acquire Churchill Insurance from Credit Suisse for £1.2bn, which will involve the merger of Churchill with its Direct Line subsidiary to create the UK's third largest general insurer.

Kiln, the Lloyd's insurance underwriter, is investing £16m in a new London-based specialist casualty insurance provider being set up by WR Berkley of the US.

Royal & Sun Alliance has sold its Royal Specialty Underwriting business in the US to Alleghany Insurance for £72m, while its Puerto Rican subsidiary has been sold to Cooperativa de Seguros Multiples for £38m.

HBOS has acquired IMIWeb, the UK broking arm of Banca IMI of Italy, in order to expand its Halifax Share Dealing subsidiary.

Maclay Murray & Spens has acquired Fenners, the London-based legal firm specialising in corporate finance, property and banking, which will involve the transfer of 18 staff.

Edinburgh Fund Managers has sold its private client asset management operations to Tilney Investment Management for an initial £5m.

Securicor is to sell Securicor Cash Machine, the operator of 1,232 ATMs, to Cardpoint for up to £10m.

Benfield is planning to raise £100m in a flotation in order to reduce debt and fund the expansion of its reinsurance business through a series of acquisitions.

Aegon UK has acquired Elliott Bayley, the Surrey-based independent financial adviser with 43 staff, for undisclosed terms.

Lloyds TSB is to create 600 part-time jobs at its call centre in Newcastle-upon-Tyne over the next year.

Allied Irish Banks is planning to open 20 new branches and create 200 jobs, in order to increase its presence in the UK small business banking sector.

IFG Group has sold The ISA Shop, the Nottingham-based independent financial advisor, to The Money Portal for £1.9m.

The Funding Corporation is to expand the headquarters of its affinity finance business in Chester with the creation of 100 jobs, and is seeking staff with skills in telemarketing and financial services selling.

Beckett Group has acquired Hose Somers, the Thetford-based insurance broker, and is now in discussions with four other regionally-based brokers.

Lloyds TSB is to sell its French private banking and fund management operations to UBS of Switzerland for undisclosed terms.

Royal Bank of Scotland is to buy the German credit card operations of Santander Central Hispano for undisclosed terms, while the South American private banking operations of its Coutts division are being sold to SCH.

Eagle Star is recruiting 30 additional staff at its travel insurance office in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

ING of the Netherlands is investing £25m in the development of a UK internet and telephone savings bank, with the creation of up to 400 jobs in Reading over the next three years.

London Pacific is to sell London Pacific Advisory Services, London Pacific Securities and LPA Insurance Agency to SunGard Data Systems for £5.1m.

Barclays is to acquire Banco Zaragozano, the Spanish bank with 361 branches, for £810m.

Sky Capital is to acquire Cardinal Capital Management, the US-based broker dealer and investment advisor, for £2.6m.

Esure is to set up a new insurance call centre to Manchester city centre early next year, with the creation of 450 jobs over the next four years.

Bradford & Bingley is to acquire Holden Meehan, the independent financial adviser, for undisclosed terms.

Misys has acquired Crossmar Matching Service, the developer of software for foreign exchange transactions, from Citicorp for £8.3m.

Brit Insurance is to acquire PRI Group, the professional indemnity insurer, for £156m.

Royal Bank of Scotland is to acquire Port Financial Corporation, the US holding company for the Cambridgeport savings bank, for £180m.

Hugh James, the law firm, is to set up a new headquarters at Hodge House in the centre of Cardiff, and 150 staff will relocate there over the next month.

Edward Jones is looking to set up about 10 financial services offices in the Newcastle area over the next 12 months, each employing an independent financial adviser and an office administrator.

EDS is expected to create about 250 jobs at its new Post Office bank accounts call centre in Preston over the next two years.

Seymour Pierce's investment banking and broking division is to undergo a £7.3m management buy-out backed by Alchemy Partners, while the fund management division will be sold in a separate deal.

University of Exeter has awarded a £3.2m contract to Interserve to build a centre for financial investment.

London Stock Exchange has secured planning permission to redevelop its Old Broad Street headquarters, as part of its relocation to larger premises at Paternoster Square.

James Brearley & Sons has acquired Nichols Williams Durrant & Co, the Leeds-based investment and pensions adviser.

MyTravel has sold MyTravel Financial Services, its foreign exchange wholesale business, to Travelex for £21m.

Royal & Sun Alliance has sold its UK private medical insurance business to a management team backed by Barclays Private Equity for £147m.

Vantis has acquired the non-audit business of Beavis Walker of London for up to £5.2m.

Capita is to set up a 50,000 sq ft office at Lingfield Point in Darlington in August, with the relocation of up to 400 staff from Mowden Hall.

The Department for Work & Pensions is to set up a Job Centre Plus call centre at the former ITV Digital site in Pembroke Dock in June, with the creation of 250 jobs.

Barclaycard is seeking opportunities to expand its credit card business into east Asia.

Tenon has sold its Tenon Livingstone Guarantee corporate finance business to eight partners in the Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham offices for undisclosed terms.

HomeLet Referencing is to create up to 90 new jobs at its credit reference business in Lincoln, following the transfer of some work from Glasgow.

Quinn-Direct has announced plans to set up a £8m insurance call centre in Enniskillen, with the creation of 300 jobs.

JP Morgan, the financial services company, is creating 150 jobs for software engineers at its European Technology Centre in Glasgow.

GUS has announced a £70m deal to take full control of Scorex, the Bradford-based credit solutions company, in order to expand its Experian business.

Barclays is planning to recruit a further 60 staff at its Cardiff-based Firstplus financial services business, taking the total to 250.

Principality Building Society has opened its first call centre in Cardiff with 20 staff, and a further 20 jobs will be created as the range of services is expanded.

Royal Liver is to acquire Park Row, the Leeds-based independent financial advice company, for £17m.

Charles Schwab is to sell its 50% stake in Scottish broker Aitken Campbell to TD Waterhouse, but will retain a UK presence by setting up a US dollar office in London later this year.

HSBC Private Equity has undergone a £25m management buy-out from HSBC, and the business will be renamed Montagu Private Equity.

National Australia Bank is planning to develop a national franchise in UK retail banking from its four regional operations - Clydesdale, Yorkshire Bank, Northern Bank and National Irish.

Brit Insurance Holdings has sold PI Direct, the London-based professional indemnity underwriting company, to management.

The Department for Work & Pensions is seeking permission to set up a two-storey regional office in Corby by April 2004, with the creation of 200 jobs.

Bacs has set up a new ventures group to expand its automated clearing house into new areas, which could include a move into continental Europe.

The National Assembly for Wales is to set up a regional office at the Rhydycar Business Park in Merthyr Tydfil, with the creation of 320 jobs.

Helphire Group is investing £13m in a new 60,000 sq ft head office and call centre in Bath, which is due to open later this year.

MBNA, the credit card company, has won planning permission to almost double the size of its European headquarters at the Chester Business Park, creating up to 2,700 new jobs.

Newcastle Building Society is to create 70 new jobs in its branch network and 50 at its new in-house financial services operation, and has also announced an 18-month refurbishment programme for its 50 branches.

Royal Bank of Scotland has announced a £150m project to refurbish its chain of 1,650 NatWest branches, including new signage and some internal changes.

Huntswood Outsourcing Solutions is to create 600 new jobs at its financial outsourcing business in Reading, by expanding its existing office in Market Place and setting up a customer service centre at Green Park.

Provident Financial is to spend £7m piloting new credit cards over the next 18 months, and £6m expanding its international operations into Slovakia, Hungary and Mexico.

Freeth Cartwright, the law firm, is considering plans to relocate three of its Nottingham offices in to one city centre site, and talks are taking place with Wilson Bowden Developments over a property at Cumberland Place.

Hallmark Corporate Services is opening a new call centre in Sunderland, in order to arrange discounts on utility and insurance bills for sports clubs and charities, with the creation of 40 jobs.

Old Mutual is considering plans to expand its financial services business in the UK through acquisition, in order to reduce its dependence on South Africa.

ASA Creditsafe of Sweden is to expand its credit checking service at the Caerphilly Business Park, with the creation of 30 jobs.

THB Group is to acquire BEIB Equestrian Holdings, the specialist insurance broker covering the equestrian market, for an initial £2.3m.

Talbot & Muir has merged with Southall Asset Management, creating an enlarged Nottingham-based financial services group with 20 staff.

Smart & Cook has acquired Oughtred & Harrison of Yorkshire in a £20m deal, adding seven new branches to its insurance broking network.

Theodore Goddard of London is to merge with Addleshaw Booth of Leeds and Manchester to create a combined law firm with 180 partners and 500 lawyers.

Ofex, the share trading market, is planning to raise between £2m and £5m with a flotation on Aim, in order to fund expansion and provide working capital.

Zurich Financial Services is said to be planning to set up a new Cardiff headquarters at the Fusion Point development, with the creation of 300 jobs.

Aviva is planning to open an insurance call centre in India with 1,000 staff, prompting speculation about the possibility of job losses in the UK.

London Scottish Bank has acquired Pacific Home Loans, the secured lending broker based in Leigh, Essex, for an initial £3.2m.

PricewaterhouseCoopers is to relocate more than 350 staff from Nottingham and Leicester to new offices at the Pegasus Business Park at Castle Donington next month.

Cornhill Direct is to create 105 new jobs at its insurance call centres in Bristol this year.

Jones Day is planning to expand into the UK legal market by acquiring Gouldens, which would give the US law firm 200 lawyers in London focusing on the mergers and acquisitions market.

Royal & Sun Alliance is to sell Tyndall Investment Managers of Australia to James Fielding Holdings for £10m.

Millfield is to acquire RST Group, the accountancy firm with 110 staff and 13 offices in the north of England and Scotland.

Abbey National has sold most of its First National consumer credit business to GE Consumer Finance of the US for £848m.

Standard Chartered is planning to open 23 bank branches in India this year, taking the total to 81.

Teather & Greenwood is raising £2.9m in a rights issue, in order to strengthen its balance sheet and fund the expansion of its brokerage business.

Culver Holdings has acquired the Trinity Court commercial insurance business from Budget Group for £0.2m, in order to expand its broking operations in Cardiff and London.

First Direct is to recruit 300 extra staff at its telephone banking call centre in Hamilton this year.

BT is to set up a new corporate venturing business called NVP Brightstar, in partnership with Coller Capital and New Venture Partners.

Barclays has acquired the European retail stockbroking business of Charles Schwab for a nominal sum, which will result in the closure of offices in Birmingham and Milton Keynes.

ING, the Dutch-owned bank, is said to be planning to set up a call centre at the Thames Valley Business Park in Reading, with the creation of hundreds of jobs.

Dickinson Dees, the law firm, is recruiting up to 100 extra staff in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and its volume residential property division has moved to new offices at Eldon Court.

The London Stock Exchange has acquired Proquote, the Cheshire-based supplier of online trading and market information software, for £13m.

Inter-Alliance is to pay up to £2.5m for certain fixed assets and the net commission of Heartland Independent Advisers, which has offices in Birmingham, Cardiff, St Albans and Nottingham and about 175 self-employed advisers.

Churchill Insurance is creating a further 85 jobs at its customer service centre in Thornaby, Teesside.

Capcon Holdings is to acquire Argen, the corporate investigation company, for an initial £1.3m.

Berkeley Berry Birch has acquired Professional Financial Solutions, the independent financial adviser operating from Huddersfield and Camberley, for £1.5m.

The Mortgage Group is to create 200 jobs at new mortgage call centres in Droitwich and Crewe, while 300 extra staff will be recruited at its Cornwall site.

Budget Group is recruiting 150 staff for a new insurance call centre at the Sunderland Enterprise Park.

Collins Stewart is to acquire Tullett for £213m, in order to expand its activities in the bond and derivatives market.

The Department for Work & Pensions is to create more than 2,000 jobs in the north-east, with almost half at the Tyneview Park Pension Centre.

BWD Securities has sold its Huddersfield-based administration services division, comprising Northern Registrars, Northern Administration and Connaught St Michaels, to Capita IRG for £18m.

Barnetts, the Southport-based law firm that specialises in conveyancing, is planning to create 150 new jobs over the next few months and is due to move into new offices at the Southport Business Park by July.

Barclays is planning to expand its Woolwich independent financial advisory division into continental Europe, to attract expatriate customers.

Bridgepoint is to support a £21m management buy-out at Euronet Services (UK), the operator of 700 cash machines, and the business will be expanded under the new name of Bank Machine.

Travelex is seeking acquisitions to expand its foreign exchange business in North America and Asia, having raised £66m from the sale of its 49% stake in a joint venture with US-based MoneyGram.

Bevan Ashford, the law firm, is planning to build a new office complex at the Exeter Business Park by summer 2004, providing space for up to 600 legal staff.

ICAP is to acquire BrokerTec, the US electronic trading system, for up to £181m.

ING of the Netherlands is to close its regional banking office in Liverpool with the loss of up to 30 jobs, although some staff will relocate to London or Edinburgh.

Teather & Greenwood is planning to sell part of its investment management division to Prudential-Bache for up to £3.6m.

BiB has acquired DMC Insurance Services, creating a combined Darlington-based financial services business with 72 staff.

Axa Insurance is creating 75 customer sales and claims handling jobs at its office in Ipswich.

The Department for Work & Pensions is to create 356 jobs at a new pensions advice centre in Derby over the next five months.

Sun Life Financial Services of Canada is to sell its Basingstoke-based group insurance business to US-owned Unum for undisclosed terms.

HBOS Card Services is to set up a new financial services office at Alexandra House in Cardiff Bay, with the creation of 200 jobs over the next three years.

Axa Insurance has announced plans to create a further 60 new jobs at its call centre in Darlington.

Lighthouse Group is to sell two subsidiaries - Lighthouse Independent Financial Advisers (City) and Lighthouse Independent Financial Advisers (Kent) - to a former executive.

Deutsche Bank is to sell its property investment banking team, which includes 20 London-based staff, to Eurohypo for £44m.