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Rothschild family unifies holdings { July 18 2007 }

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Rothschild family unifies holdings
By Lina Saigol in London
Financial Times
Updated: 12:40 a.m. ET July 18, 2007

Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, one of the City of London's best-connected financiers, on Tuesday ended his direct financial involvement with the Rothschild banking dynasty by selling all his shares in the group.

Sir Evelyn, who was chairman of the English branch of Rothschild for 22 years, will sell his shares as part of €446m ($615m) deal designed to simplify the shareholding structure of the Rothschild banking group.

"I am the fifth generation of the Rothschild family and we have gone through two world wars, revolutions and recessions. The fact that we are still here is a huge achievement," Sir Evelyn said.

Under the terms of the deal, Paris-Orléans, the holding company of the French Rothschilds, will own 100 per cent of Concordia, the main holding company for the whole Rothschild banking group.

Paris-Orléans will pay half cash and issue 647,000 new shares to acquire the 50 per cent of Concordia that it does not already own.

The deal will create a new family company to be jointly owned by the French and English branches of the Rothschild family.

It will become the controlling shareholder of Paris-Orléans and will hold 51 per cent of the voting rights.

It is also designed to send a clear message to the market that the Rothschild family intend to keep control of their 200-year-old dynasty. The family has agreed not to sell any of its shares for at least 10 years.

"This is built on the independence of our group, thanks to the family control, our proximity to clients, a strong international presence and the cohesion and skills of our bankers," David de Rothschild, chairman of the banking group, said in a statement.

However, the simplification of the shareholder structure could also make it easier for a US or European investment bank to approach Rothschild about a takeover in the future.

The new structure follows the 2003 unification of the French and British arms of the Rothschild family.

Under that reorganisation, Sir Evelyn ceded control of the London arm of the business, which he had headed since 1976, to David, his distant French cousin.

Sir Evelyn, who turns 76 next month, will remain active in public and business life.

Among other ventures, he and his wife Lynn Forester own EL Rothschild, a private equity firm that has a joint venture with Bharti Enterprises of India in FieldFresh, which exports fresh agricultural products.

"I have a very strict rule that when you step down from a job, you don't stay around and double-guess the new management," Sir Evelyn said.

Copyright The Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved.

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