Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

National Bank buys Bieber Securities

Third aquisition this year

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One of Winnipeg's largest independent brokerages has been bought by one of the biggest banks in the country, the Free Press has learned.

The purchase of Bieber Securities, an 11-broker shop, by the brokerage arm of Montreal-based National Bank for an undisclosed sum, received regulatory approval last week.

Guy Bieber, president and CEO of the 13-year-old firm, said after deflecting numerous advances from larger players over the past five years -- including Winnipeg's Richardson Partners Financial -- he decided he had found a good fit with National Bank Financial.

"They approached us before Christmas and quickly made it clear to us they're extremely entrepreneurial. They already had one good office here and they wanted to add to their market share in Manitoba. We looked at it from our clients' perspective and agreed it would be a very good fit for them and ourselves," he said.

A spokesman for the Investment Dealers Association, which regulates investment dealers across the country, confirmed it has given its blessing to the transaction.

Bieber said National Bank Financial has agreed to maintain his two-person corporate finance department in Winnipeg, which will enable many local companies to continue to access much-needed financing. He said while he will now be a vice-president and resident manager for the sixth-biggest bank in the country, the vast majority of his operational decisions will be made locally.

"We'll be working for a publicly traded corporation, that will probably mean something. But they've told us we can run the operation autonomously. We'll work with our clients the way we think we should," he said.

A spokesperson from National Bank could not be reached for comment. The Bieber Securities acquisition represents the third addition under its corporate umbrella this year, following the purchase of Aquilon Capital Corp., a Toronto-based investment firm, and Everest Financial Group, a Quebec-based brokerage firm.

Dan Richards, president of Strategic Imperatives, a Toronto-based consulting firm to the financial services industry, said National Bank has been trying to expand its footprint in English Canada for more than a decade.

"Bieber Securities will be an interesting bolt-on to what National Bank already has in place. National Bank is more entrepreneurial and offers more scope than the other bank-owned firms typically would, that will give Bieber Securities a little more autonomy than they might have had otherwise," he said.

Bieber Securities has 37 employees in offices in Winnipeg, Brandon, Steinbach and Dauphin. It was founded in 1995 by Guy Bieber and his brother Greg, who had established themselves at what is now BMO Nesbitt Burns. Greg Bieber left the firm in the summer of 2003 to join Richardson Partners Financial.

National Bank, the smallest of the Big Six banks, has $123 billion in assets under management and 3,350 employees in offices in Canada, Switzerland, the U.S. and the U.K.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 26, 2008 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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