Ex-Tory Treasurer Spencer Targets Invoice Firm
An investment vehicle whose directors include Michael Spencer, the former Conservative Party Treasurer, is in advanced talks about an acquisition that would trigger a stock market flotation.
Sky News understands that Tungsten Corporation, which was set up last year by Edi Truell, a financial services entrepreneur, is in discussions about buying a major stake in OB10, a business-to-business electronic invoicing provider.
A deal has yet to be finalised and its value is unclear, but one source close to the talks said that it could be completed within days.
The transaction would be likely to involve OB10 being reversed into Tungsten, which plans to raise funds from City investors to finance the takeover of fast-growing financial services businesses.
Mr Truell, whose brother Danny, a senior investment executive at medical charity The Wellcome Trust, is also involved and is understood to be attracted to technology companies operating in the financial sector.
OB10's existing shareholders include Fleming Family & Partners (FF&P), the investment firm with links to Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels.
The company describes itself as "the leading global B2B e-invoicing network", and claims that it can reduce the cost of paper invoice processing by 60%.
It is unclear whether FF&P or OB10's other investors plan to sell out altogether as part of the deal; one source close to Tungsten cautioned that the OB10 investment was "only one piece of the jigsaw".
City investors are expected to back Mr Truell's vision of creating a much larger business in the space following his successful track record at Duke Street Capital, the private equity group which ran into difficulty after his exit, and Pension Corporation, which masterminded the takeover of company pension liabilities.
Tungsten has been linked with a string of other acquisitions since it was formed, including the general insurance arm of the struggling Co-Operative Group and Scottish Widows, which is owned by the state-backed Lloyds Banking Group.
Mr Spencer agreed to join the vehicle's board as a non-executive director ahead of a flotation, which was originally scheduled for June last year but aborted because of adverse market conditions.
Spokesmen for Tungsten and FF&P both declined to comment.