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News in brief

Liberty sale: Last month’s interviewees – Andrew Blurton and Jagtar Singh, the joint FDs at Marylebone Warwick Balfour – didn’t let much slip when asked about MWB’s intentions towards Regent street retailer Liberty, which the property group was then trying to acquire. ‘One would just say, what is Liberty?’ was all that Blurton would comment. Now we know: the 125-year-old business has just been bought for £72m and the MWB plan is to focus a streamlined retail operation in the landmark mock Tudor building, which occupies half the available space, with the rest to be let out as office accommodation. Elizabeth Stewart-Liberty, a member of the founding family, told the Daily Telegraph: ‘I’m not saying anything. I’ve got a slug pellet in my eye and a souffle in the oven. I must go.’

Mutual recognition: In the March issue of Financial Director we examined the move by accounting firms into mid-tier investment banking, a market vacated by global banks and small brokers. But that gap is now also being exploited by Old Mutual, whose FD we profiled in the same issue. ‘This is the first integration of former Gerrard businesses with existing Old Mutual operations,’ said finance chief Eric Anstee, commenting on the launch of Old Mutual Securities. The 120-strong firm’s first major deal has been to advise the Phoenix Consortium on the purchase of Rover from BMW.

Dot.gone: A PricewaterhouseCoopers report suggests that most listed Internet companies are at risk of running out of money within the next 15 months, writes Matthew Gerry of In addition, the report predicts that as many as one-in-four floated dot.coms will have emptied their coffers within six months.

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