ZEDRA is launched as acquisition of Barclays’ trust business completes

18 January 2016

Completion of Barclays’ trust and fiduciary business acquisition following regulatory approvals across all of its international jurisdictions… and unveiled its new name: ZEDRA.

An independent investor group, led by the Sarikhani and Nielsen families, which on 5 June 2015 agreed to acquire a majority shareholding in Barclays’ trust and fiduciary business, today announces the completion of the acquisition following regulatory approvals across all of its international jurisdictions… and unveiled its new name: ZEDRA.

Barclays will retain a stake of 19.9% in the company, reflecting both its interest in the ongoing success of the business and its commitment to supporting continuing relationships with clients and the advisory community.

ZEDRA is a long-established trust and fiduciary services business with a 50-year history and more than 300 people serving clients across its core locations: Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, the Cayman Islands, Singapore, the UK and Switzerland.

ZEDRA has developed and grown market leading positions in these jurisdictions under Barclays’ ownership and represents many of the most affluent and influential families, investors and organisations in the world. The new management team intends to double the size of the business within five years.

The acquisition of the business received approval from regulators in all jurisdictions in which it operates, and its new independence provides a platform from which the services it provides to clients and advisers can be expanded in both existing and new markets. The company’s ambitious long-term growth plans also represent a break with recent trends in the sector, it being the first global trust business to be acquired without a private equity investor for almost ten years.

ZEDRA has a strong and experienced board of directors, which includes Yves Deschenaux as Chairman, Bart Deconinck as Group Deputy Chairman, Niels Nielsen as Group Chief Executive Officer and Ali Sarikhani as Non-Executive Director (see notes to editors for biographies).

The acquirer brings to bear significant experience in the sector, having been at the forefront of the trust industry for more than 30 years. During that time, it has successfully invested in and contributed to the development of several companies in the sector including Vistra Group, Vestra Wealth, Intertrust, Kinetic Partners, Chiltern Group and Azure Trust, all of which have grown and developed under its leadership. Azure Trust will also be merged into ZEDRA.

ZEDRA plans to double the size of the business within five years. This growth will be driven by an investment in attracting and retaining talented people to complement and build on the considerable experience and expertise already held within the company, and by further developing ZEDRA’s strong client base.

The company currently represents some of the world’s most affluent and influential families, entrepreneurs, investors and other organisations, and it intends to expand its engagement to a wider range of corporate and institutional clients in the future. The company will continue to deepen its working relationships with Barclays and the wider intermediary and advisory communities, while broadening its geographic focus to include new markets where strategic growth opportunities have been identified.

Niels Nielsen, Group Chief Executive Officer of ZEDRA, commented: “Today represents a pivotal moment in the life of this outstanding business and a unique opportunity to further build a global market leader in this dynamic sector. This is one of the longest-established trust businesses in the world with a heritage which, combined with our own experience in the sector, creates a powerful platform for growth.

“ZEDRA’s best-in-class processes and procedures are testament to the stewardship of Barclays and our plans will rely on maintaining and further enhancing these standards, thereby reaffirming the trust that our clients, our partners and the international advisory community place in us. This is an exciting time for the business, as we seek to double in size within five years. We relish the challenge ahead, which we approach with renewed energy and drive.”

Bart Deconinck, Group Deputy Chairman of ZEDRA, added: “The trust industry is at an important point with a combination of both challenges and opportunities. An increasingly complex regulatory and compliance landscape demands expertise, strength and depth to ensure that clients’ interests are best served within the new realities of our marketplace. Our leadership team is well placed to provide the insight and industry expertise that will guide our ambitious growth plans, underpinned by the talent of our people and supported by the opportunities we will be offering to new colleagues moving forward.

“This is the first global trust business to be acquired outside the private equity space for almost a decade and we intend to invest in positioning the company for long term, sustainable growth.”

The company’s new name, ZEDRA, was developed through extensive consultation throughout the business. It is designed to reflect the energy, ambition and direction of its people, which underpin the services it provides to clients and their advisers.


Notes to Editors:

About the transaction

Barclays Wealth & Investment Management announced on 5 June 2015 that it intended to sell its trust and fiduciary business following an internal strategic review. It approached the management of ZEDRA on the strength of its previous experience in building and growing businesses in the trust and corporate services sectors.

Barclays will retain a stake of approximately 20% in the business for a minimum of three years, reflecting the opportunities that the sector continues to offer and its commitment to supporting ongoing client and adviser relationships. This acquisition received unanimous regulatory approval across all its international jurisdictions.

About the Acquirer

The acquirer is an experienced independent investor group led by two families, Sarikhani and Nielsen, that has significant experience in building and operating financial services businesses in the trust, financial planning, tax, advisory, regulatory advisory and payments sectors.

Over the past 30 years they have successfully invested in and contributed to the development of several financial advisory companies including Vistra Group, Kinetic Partners, Chiltern Group, Intertrust, Vestra Wealth and Azure Trust. They also have significant investments in hotels and properties through the Azure Hotel group.

Board of Directors

Yves Deschenaux, Chairman

Yves Deschenaux has built, founded and operated global businesses in the finance and accounting sectors, where he has specialised in trading, broking and corporate M&A transactions, tax and advisory services to clients. Companies he has founded include: Asyris, an accountancy firm specialising in audit and tax advisory services and

Sawasdee Invest SA, the real estate development company. He created a regulated Specialized Investment Fund, Khephren SCA SICAV-SIF, where he currently serves as a partner in the management company.

He has held partner and managing director positions at Lehman Brothers, Arthur Anderson and Altran Business Consulting where he led international mandates in accounting, business consulting and finance.

Bart Deconinck, Group Deputy Chairman

Bart Deconinck has unrivalled experience in founding, building and operating global financial businesses delivering trust services to global clients; he was founder, chairman and CEO of Vistra Group, one of the largest international providers of corporate, fiduciary and company formation services employing more than 1,500 people in 32 countries.

Bart began his career with Ernst and Young and went onto hold several management positions at MeesPierson, a leading Private Bank and subsidiary of Fortis at the time where he was a member of the worldwide Executive Board, a member of the Fortis Management Council and the CEO of MeesPierson Intertrust.

Bart Deconinck holds a master’s degree in Economics from the University of Antwerp and a master’s degree in Management Accounting from the Vlerick Leuven-Gent Management School.

Niels Nielsen, Group Chief Executive Officer

Niels is an experienced financier, having worked in mergers & acquisitions, sales, investment and asset management at various world-renowned institutions including Credit Suisse First Boston, Union Investment Real Estate AG and Smith Barney. He has worked across several financial centres – including London, Hamburg and New York – since 1995.

Niels Nielsen is a founder of Azure Trust in Jersey and the Chairman of Tuxedo Money Solutions. He currently holds a number of non-executive board positions including Azure Hotels, Vestra Wealth LLP, Gabelle Tax, Saffron Tax and KP Partners. In the past he has been a board member of Kinetic Partners.

Niels holds an MBA from Yale School of Management and a BA in Economics from Brown University.

Ali Sarikhani, Non-Executive Director

Ali Sarikhani has more than 35 years of experience in founding, building and operating global financial businesses in trust, fiduciary and advisory services, focusing on regulation, risk, compliance, tax advice and planning. Companies that he has founded include the Vistra Group, Kinetic Partners and the Chiltern Group.

An experienced business services practitioner, he originally qualified as a Chartered Accountant with what is now Ernst & Young. He set up his own practice in London at the age of 33, which was acquired by UBS in 1986 and later re-launched under his leadership as Chiltern Group plc, which grew to service more than 10,000 clients. He remained Chairman until the management buyout in 1997.

His family has interests in a number of firms including Vestra Wealth LLP, Tuxedo Money Solutions and Azure Hotels.

He is Chairman of: Saffron Tax Partners, Vestra Wealth and Azure Wealth.