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Peter Webb says 'I'll be back'

by James Phillipps on Jul 24, 2008 at 10:36

Peter Webb says 'I'll be back'

Former Unicorn chief executive Peter Webb is planning a rapid return to the market with the launch of a micro-cap fund.

The smaller companies stalwart stepped down from Unicorn, which he founded in 2000, back in July and has since been focusing on his role as non-executive chairman of FinnCap, the corporate finance and research arm of stockbrokers JM Finn.

Webb said he is in discussions with a number of firms about potentially running the fund as a joint venture but he is also considering launching a new fund management company.

‘I am not the sort of person to stay out of the market long and I feel there are significant opportunities in the Alternative Investment Market, particularly given the substantial recent falls in share prices,’ he said.

‘I want to get back to running money as soon as possible. There is a clear gap in the micro-cap space and I am determined to get a smaller companies fund out for the people who have stuck by me through the good times and the bad times.’

Webb said if he launches his own fund he would favour a limited partnership structure over an investment trust following the bitter dispute that saw Unicorn’s flagship investment trust Eaglet taken over by activist investors Knox D’Arcy.

Setting up a new business would be dependent on him realising his 29% shareholding in Unicorn, however. Unicorn is currently undertaking a strategic review of its business after losing both its chief executive and managing director, Peter Walls, along with two investment trust mandates in the past six months.

Unicorn finance director Philip John said: ‘The review will take place over the summer and we are keeping an open mind about the outcome.’

Webb had previously mooted the idea of merging Unicorn’s unit trust business into JM Finn and that is understood to be one of the options Unicorn is considering.

Both John and Webb believe the firm’s brand is still highly regarded by private client stockbrokers and advisers.

‘Unicorn could seek a buyer or someone could come in and use it as a platform to expand into the AIM space,’ Webb added.

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