Provident board rebuffs £1.3bn NSF takeover approach

Doorstep lender Provident has rebuffed a £1.3 billion takeover approach from rival Non-Standard Finance, describing it as “highly opportunistic” and “irresponsible”.

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.

Patrick Snowball, chairman of Provident, said: “The board of Provident Financial believes that the offer does not reflect the underlying value of the company and its prospects.

“It also has a number of concerns with regard to the offer, including its all-share nature and the executability of the strategy set out in the offer.

“The board therefore intends to do everything it can to maximise value for all shareholders over the coming weeks and will explore all appropriate alternatives to achieve that objective.”

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

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

According to the terms of the NSF deal, which is backed by more than 50% of Provident investors, Provident shareholders will own approximately 87.8% of the new entity.

Investors must vote on whether to approve the deal, but it has already received the blessing of star fund manager Neil Woodford, Invesco and Marathon.

“It is extremely disappointing that NSF has chosen to announce an unsolicited and highly opportunistic offer for Provident Financial,” said Mr Snowball.

“Provident Financial’s management team has stabilised the business in a very turbulent period over the past 18 months, which has largely consisted of addressing managerial mistakes of the past, and now has a clear strategy for delivering enhanced returns to shareholders.”

Provident added on Monday that it is trading in line with expectations but, given the circumstances, the board will delay the announcement of its full-year 2018 results to March 13.

Embattled Provident saw shares tumble in January after it warned that profits will be at the lower end of expectations.

The group 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.

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