Make us your home page

Sykes buying Tampa's GunnAllen Financial

TAMPA — A local investment group led by John Sykes, founder and chairman emeritus of call center operator Sykes Enterprises, announced a deal Thursday to buy a controlling stake in GunnAllen Holdings Inc., parent company of Tampa's GunnAllen Financial.

Sykes, 72, will become chairman of the board and hopes to expand GunnAllen into a full-service financial services company along the lines of Raymond James in St. Petersburg.

Sykes will name four of seven members of the reorganized company's board. Gunn founder Rick Frueh will stay on as chief executive, though Sykes didn't rule out management changes in the future. Layoffs could occur at the firm's headquarters at 5002 W. Waters Ave., but they "won't be significant," Sykes said.

GunnAllen, a $140-million private company founded in 1986, employs about 260 in Tampa. It also manages a network of 750 to 800 brokers in more than 30 states. It recently faced fines of $750,000 and various lawsuits connected to sales and investment practices of some former brokers. Sykes said the legal troubles "allowed us to established a fair value price" for GunnAllen during months of discussions.

"There's always a worry when you go into these things," Sykes said. "When you look at my history I love to build things, work with companies that can do better, companies that need something I can bring."

Sykes grew his namesake company to a giant though the acquisition of nearly 40 call center firms in the U.S. and Europe and 31,000 employees.

Since retiring in 2004, Sykes has invested in various deals, including helping found Tampa's NorthStar Bank in 2007. He also chairs NorthStar.

Looking to grow in its competitive industry, GunnAllen has been eager to find a wealthy partner to invest capital, Frueh said. Neither Sykes nor Frueh disclosed how much Sykes invested.

"I really get to add a group of board members with proven management experience," Frueh said. "The ability to retain and attract the best people is determined by your ability to grow the organization."

Subject to the approval of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the deal is expected to close in 30 to 60 days.

Both Sykes and Frueh cited Raymond James as a model to aspire to. Among the nation's 335 independent financial services firms, Gunn ranks 22nd and Raymond James ranks second.

To reach than goal, Sykes plans to strengthen management and oversight of GunnAllen and then relinquish the board to other hands. "I want to work myself out of a job," he said.

Sykes buying Tampa's GunnAllen Financial 09/04/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 9, 2008 1:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. The real estate pros in charge of Tampa's $3 billion makeover are younger than you think

    Working Life

    TAMPA — Brooke May, a 36-year-old senior construction project manager, knew she wanted to work for Strategic Property Partners the minute she met some team members involved with the group's massive downtown Tampa makeover.

    Matt Davis, Vice President of Development posed for a portrait in the Strategic Property Partners office in Channelside on July 12, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  2. St. Pete Beach may loosen beach drinking rules for hotel guests

    Local Government

    ST. PETE BEACH — Drinking a beer, a cocktail or a glass of wine may soon be legal on this city's beaches, but only for hotel guests in and around their hotel's beachfront cabanas.

    Registered hotel guests would be able to drink alcoholic beverages at their cabanas on the beach under a new rule the St. Pete Beach City Commission is considering.  

  3. PunditFact: George Will's comparison of tax preparers, firefighters based on outdated data


    The statement

    "America has more people employed as tax preparers (1.2 million) than as police and firefighters."

    George Will, July 12 in a column

    The ruling

    WASHINGTON - JANUARY 08: Conservative newspaper columnist George Will poses on the red carpet upon arrival at a salute to FOX News Channel's Brit Hume on January 8, 2009 in Washington, DC. Hume was honored for his 35 years in journalism. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
  4. Appointments at Shutts & Bowen and Tech Data highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers



    Retired U.S. Navy Commander Scott G. Johnson has joined Shutts & Bowen LLP in its Tampa office as a senior attorney in the firm's Government Contracts and Corporate Law Practice Groups. Johnson brings 15 years of legal experience and 24 years of naval service to his position. At Shutts, Scott will …

    United States Navy Commander (Retired) Scott G. Johnson joins Shutts & Bowen LLP in its Tampa office. [Company handout]
  5. Macy's chairman replaces ex-HSN head Grossman on National Retail Federation board


    Terry Lundgren, chairman of Macy's Inc., will replace Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman as chair of the National Retail Federation, the organization announced Wednesday. Grossman stepped down from her position following her move from leading St. Petersburg-based HSN to Weight Watchers.

    Weight Watchers CEO and former HSN chief Mindy Grossman is being replaced as chair of the National Retail Federation. [HSN Inc.]