Troubled SIPP operator Guinness Mahon sold to Hartley Pensions

Hannah Godfrey reports...

[url=http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/9786622][img]http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40117171/business.jpg[/img][/url]

Troubled SIPP operator Guinness Mahon has been sold to Hartley Pensions after entering administration earlier this month.

Administrators from Smith & Williamson (S&W) were appointed on Monday (17 February) and immediately concluded the sale of the business and certain assets to Hartley Pensions.

The sale included around 4,000 self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs) previously administered by Guinness Mahon.

Guinness Mahon entered administration following a number of claims made against it relating to non-standard investments in its SIPPs.

Last year RP’s sister publication Professional Adviser reported the SIPP provider had opened SIPP schemes for clients after recommendations from unregulated agent Avacade, which cold-called clients to recommend they transfer their personal pensions into high-risk schemes such as Ethical Forestry and Global Plantations.

While Hartley Pensions bought the business claims against the SIPP provider, it is unclear whether any outstanding liabilities will fall on the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) to ultimately be paid for by the financial services industry and advisers. So far, the FSCS has not received any claims against Guinness Mahon.

A frequently asked questions document from S&W said anyone wishing to make a claim should contact the FSCS, however a spokesperson for S&W was unable to confirm if the liabilities would sit with the lifeboat fund or Hartley Pensions.

As part of the sale all Guinness Mahon staff will transfer across to Hartley Pensions. Smith & Williamson said it does not anticipate any disruption to the services previously provided by the SIPP firm.

Smith & Williamson partner Adam Stephens said: “We are pleased to confirm the sale of the business to Hartley, which will provide continuity of service to Guinness Mahon’s clients.

“The sale followed an extensive marketing exercise, with multiple offers being received. The sale to Hartley corresponded to the best offer being received for the business.”