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Banker scoops 772M in stock market float
[October 13, 2006]

Banker scoops 772M in stock market float

(Daily Mail (London) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Oct. 13--City banker Mark Coombs, 46, has pocketed 172m and retains shares worth nearly 600m after his fund management firm Ashmore made a strong stock market debut.

His 51 colleagues shared a 108m cash windfall.

Shares climbed 13pc, demonstrating that investors are still hungry for new floats, so long as they like the company.

Ashmore, which invests in debt and bonds in emerging markets such as China, Russia and Brazil, has been a huge success.

Chief executive Coombs led a management buyout of the business from ANZ in 1999, getting it on the cheap in the aftermath of the Russian credit crisis.

Before yesterday's float, he owned 57pc of the business, while Alchemy's private equity founder Jon Moulton held a 7pc stake and Ashmore's 51 staff held the remaining 36pc.

They now own a combined 75pc after Goldman Sachs and UBS sold 25pc of the shares to institutional investors at 170p each.

On its first day of conditional dealings, the shares closed up 22p at 192p, making a swift profit for investors and valuing the company at 1.4bn.

The market listing crystallises a bumper fortune for Coombs, who studied law at Cambridge University.

Yet he lives a relatively low-key life with his wife Rebecca in Wimbledon.

Coombs is keeping his head down, preferring to let new finance director Jim Pettigrew do the talking.

In a statement, however, Coombs said he was "looking forward to finding more investment themes and diversified sources of returns for investors."

When Coombs first led the buyout, Ashmore had 270m of funds under management. Now it has more than 11bn.

Seeing as Coombs and his fellow staff will still own the bulk the business, they will have an incentive to deliver.

Pettigrew joined the fund manager three months ago from broker ICAP. Having been finance director at the blue chip firm, which has a 3.3bn market value, he shouldn't be out of his depth if Ashmore grows strongly.

Pettigrew believes that the secret of Ashmore's success is its decision to focus on newer markets, seen by some other investors as too risky.

He said: "People are increasingly interested in emerging markets. We have a fantastic track record of growth and a well focused team."

He says the float has gone "better than planned" but was reluctant to discuss how Coombs was feeling, saying: "Mr Coombs is a driven man.

"He has just been focused on ensuring that the IPO was successful."

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