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By Nick Reeve | Published Jun 26, 2012

ARM crack team to whittle down restructure options

ARM Asset Backed Securities has appointed a seven-member committee to assess options for revamping its ailing portfolio of life settlements.

A statement posted on the Irish Stock Exchange said the committee planned to whittle down 13 options submitted by 10 bidders to a more select shortlist, “for further in-depth analysis”.

“[The committee has] communicated to certain bidders affording an opportunity to answer initial queries... before being ruled out to move forward onto the shortlist,” the statement said.

The committee includes Tim Roberts, who founded ARM and was chief executive of its UK distributor Catalyst Investment Group, but was forced to step back from his role as chief executive a year ago due to ill health.

The committee’s chairman is Nate Evans, chief executive of Maple Financial Group, a Canadian company which provides ARM with access to the life settlements market in North America.

Ernst & Young (E&Y), which was appointed supervisory commissioner to the ARM fund in November following its failure to gain a license to trade in Luxembourg, has two staff on the committee. Mark Farnham is a senior manager in E&Y’s regulatory advisory department, and Gareth Mee is a senior manager for European actuarial services. Mr Mee has spoken at several life settlements events organised by the European Life Settlements Association.

The other three members of the appraisal committee are ARM board members Ronan Collins, Brendan McCoy and Ross Carr.

ARM has been stuck in regulatory limbo since late last year when the CSSF, the Luxembourg regulator, refused to grant the fund permission to trade. It began struggling to meet income payments to investors last summer.

The FSA has previously confirmed that investors can claim compensation against their advisers or against Catalyst as it is based in the UK. Advisers have already been forced to pay millions of pounds to the FSCS since 2009 to compensate investors in Keydata, whose failed products were also backed by life settlements.

In April, Colin Stratton, director at Hampshire-based IFA firm Page & Page, filed complaints with the Financial Ombudsman Service against Catalyst on behalf of 12 clients invested in the ARM fund. Catalyst was forbidden by the FSA from selling ARM in August 2010 but the notice was not made public until 11 months later.

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