Vertex acquires 1st

Amanda Jarvis

February 10, 2006

Vertex owns and operates The Exchange. Its combination with 1st will accelerate electronic trading in the IFA market place, driving growth and extending the market reach of their respective services. At the same time, the integration of these market leaders will offer providers and distributors significant administration savings and drive forward electronic, end-to-end, transaction services.

Vertex’s parent company United Utilities has agreed to acquire 1st for an initial consideration of £25 million, funded by a combination of cash, loan notes and assumed debt, plus a maximum of up to £13.5 million subject to certain performance criteria being met over the next two years.

Andy Hunt, managing director of Vertex Financial Services commented: “The dynamic combination of 1st and The Exchange creates a step change in the online capability of intermediaries, particularly new business valuation and tracking. We strongly believe this integration will deliver significant additional value for existing and new clients, and provide administration savings for product providers and distributors who need to cut costs to meet regulatory pressure and consumer demand. By integrating the market leading solutions of 1st and The Exchange, for the majority of IFAs we will bring to market the first compelling straight through processing system that fully integrates the client facing front office sales functions and back office software.”

David Child managing director of The Exchange added: “1st is a powerful brand with excellent distribution and customer base. By capitalising on the complementary skills of 1st and The Exchange, we can provide a single IFA system for seamless, straight through processing from initial customer contact to ongoing policy service and customer relationship management. In this way, we will raise the game in the online capability of intermediaries, offer increased distribution potential for providers and deliver savings for providers and distributors in the life, pensions, mortgages and investments markets.”

Rory Curran, Executive Chairman of 1st said: “As part of Vertex, 1st has a fantastic opportunity to combine forces with The Exchange to transform the way financial advisers run their businesses. The integration of our technologies will enable e-business to flourish in the market place and everyone will benefit from the efficiencies, particularly the client. We are very excited about the future and we look forward to working closely with our users and partners to take the industry forward.”

1st will retain its brand name, becoming part of the Vertex Group within The Exchange. The directors of 1st will report to David Child who sits on the Divisional Executive of Vertex Financial Services.

Andy Hunt added: “The integration of 1st as part of The Exchange will be straightforward and we look forward to maximising the benefits of the brand awareness, market reputation and synergies of both these market leaders to meet our aim of transforming the way financial services are bought and sold.”

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