Competition watchdog intervenes in Non-Standard Finance bid for Provident

The competition regulator has waded in to the proposed takeover of Provident Financial by Non-Standard Finance (NSF), as it mulls whether to investigate.

NSF has made a £1.3 billion approach for doorstep lender Provident, but was rebuked by the company’s management on Monday.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has now issued an initial enforcement order which demands that NSF does not make any move to combine the two businesses for now.

The CMA is considering whether to further investigate any potential merger. The order is intended to ensure the companies stay separate while this process is ongoing.

Last week sub-prime lender NSF tabled an all-share takeover bid for troubled Provident at 511p per share.

NSF boss John van Kuffeler, who is spearheading the deal, was previously chief executive and chairman of Provident.

But Provident said on Monday that the approach could have a “negative and destabilising impact on its stakeholders, including its customers” as it advised shareholders to take no action.

Provident went on to list its objections to the deal, including opposing the sale of its Moneybarn and Satsuma units.

It also questioned NSF’s track record and ability to manage a business of the scale of Provident.

However, more than 50% of Provident shareholders back a deal.