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Non-Standard Finance withdraws £1.3bn hostile bid for Provident

NSF said it did not have enough backing for a merger with its doorstep lending rival.

Non-Standard Finance has called off its hostile £1.3 billion offer for doorstep lending rival Provident after failing to gain enough backing for the bid (PA)
Non-Standard Finance has called off its hostile £1.3 billion offer for doorstep lending rival Provident after failing to gain enough backing for the bid (PA)

Non-Standard Finance has called off its hostile £1.3 billion offer for doorstep lending rival Provident after failing to gain enough backing for the bid.

Non-Standard Finance (NSF) said that, due to the lack of support for the deal, the merged group would “not have sufficient regulatory capital on a consolidated basis at completion due to the expected level of minority interests at that point”.

It comes after asset manager Janus Henderson became the latest investor to publicly oppose the bid for Provident Financial Group, saying on Tuesday that it did not intend to accept NSF’s offer.

I am very disappointed that, despite our best efforts, customers, employees and shareholders will not now benefit from our transformation plan to build a brighter future by combining Provident with NSF John van Kuffeler, NSF

NSF group chief executive John van Kuffeler said: “I am very disappointed that, despite our best efforts, customers, employees and shareholders will not now benefit from our transformation plan to build a brighter future by combining Provident with NSF.”

NSF expects to pay transaction fees for the abandoned bid of between £10 million and £10.5 million, excluding VAT, which it said was at the lower end of its estimated range.

Provident said the withdrawal of the bid was “in the best interests” of its shareholders.

The group added that it “greatly regrets the unnecessary distraction, cost and impact of the uncertainty on Provident’s customers and staff caused by NSF pursuing its extended hostile offer”.

NSF – whose boss, Mr van Kuffeler, is the former chief executive and chairman of Provident – said the decision to lapse the deal did not affect the capital or regulatory position of NSF.

It also gave reassurances that it remained committed to its shareholder dividend payouts.

The move comes after mounting opposition from Provident shareholders to the bid ahead of Wednesday’s midnight deadline for acceptances, with Janus this week adding to the likes of Schroders, Coltrane and M&G, which took the total declared opposition to 21.6%.

Janus said Aberdeen Asset Management, which holds a 3.1% stake in the company, also indicated its intention to oppose the tie-up earlier this week.

Legal & General and Blackrock were likewise expected to oppose the offer.

NSF tabled the bid with backing from 50% of investors but said it wanted to get 90% of shareholders to support the offer.

NSF had secured the backing of some of its major shareholders including investment guru Neil Woodford, Invesco and Marathon, who together hold a 49% stake in Provident.

It brings to an end an increasingly acrimonious takeover saga, with the pair engaging in a war of words since the bid was first tabled on February 22.

NSF pounced after a troubled period for Provident, which had seen shares tumble in January after it warned over profits.

Provident also said it had seen a rise in bad debts at its Vanquis Bank arm and falling numbers of new accounts after clamping down on its lending.

The 139-year-old company sells high-cost credit through its Vanquis Bank, Moneybarn and consumer credit business.

It is also recovering from a string of regulatory sanctions.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) fined credit card lender Vanquis £2 million and ordered it to pay £168.8 million in compensation for failing to
disclose charges of its popular repayment option plan.

Meanwhile, its Moneybarn car loan arm has been under investigation by the FCA over how it treats borrowers who fall behind with payments.

The company had seen shares decimated after two profit warnings in 2017, which prompted the resignation of former chief executive Peter Crook.

PA

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