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Robert Trigaux

Report: Tampa's GunnAllen bought by California's Progressive Asset Management



Johnsykeshandout Wake up and good morning.

When it comes to the Tampa brokerage firm GunnAllen Financial, there's never a dull moment. John Sykes ( in photo) -- founder of Tampa's Sykes Enterprises, philanthropist and late-in-life private equity investor -- bought control of GunnAllen in September2008 with plans to build a larger financial empire.

But he mysteriously walked away from GunnAllen in December, never offering much of an explanation but certainly furthering questions about GunnAllen's health and/or integrity as a firm with a history of bringing on financial brokers with checkered pasts.

Gunnallenhq It's becoming a soap opera. Now comes published reports, yet to be confirmed by the actual companies, that GunnAllen (that's its headquarters in the photo) has been acquired by Progressive Asset Management of Oakland, Calif. Progressive markets itself as the country's first independent investment brokerage to specialize in socially responsible investing. It also controls a broker-dealer, the PAM Network, with 340 brokers in 140 offices. Richard Torgerson is president of Progressive Asset Management and Fred Kraus is president of GunnAllen. Neither has responded yet to inquiries. Read more here.

GunnAllen says it is home to a staff of approximately 150 financial operations personnel supporting over 600 independent financial professionals in offices across the nation.

Two months ago, John Sykes, then GunnAllen's chairman and chief investor, abruptly resigned from the firm's board, along with a number of other directors. Since then, Sykes founded JHS Capital Holdings, which subsequently bought a GunnAllen unit called Pointe Capital. Sykes would appear to now be using JHS Capital and newly acquired Pointe Capital to start building anew his financial empire that was originally based on his purchase of GunnAllen.

After all, when Sykes purchased Pointe Capital after resigning from GunnAllen, he actually bought it a second time, since GunnAllen (then headed by Sykes) bought Pointe Capital in September 2009.

Marykennemurjhscapitalpointecapitaljohnsykes Now Sykes has hired former Merrill Lynch regional executive Mary Kennemur to build Pointe Capital. In an interview with Investment News, a trade publication closely following the GunnAllen situation, Kennemur said she plans to hire 500 financial advisers over the next five years, starting first in the JHS Tampa headquarters, and then growing into the Southeast and nationally. She stated:

"We can take that population of advisers [those who bring in at least $300,000 in revenue annually], and certainly people who are more productive than that, and offer them a platform that is very competitive, and we'll value who they are and what their business stands for, and build an inclusive organization. They'll be proud to have their name on the door with ours."

Prouder than at GunnAllen's, perhaps?

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:27am]


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