War of words over Provident Financial takeover heats up

John van Kuffeler of NSF
John van Kuffeler of NSF
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The war of words over the attempted takeover of doorstep lender Provident Financial intensified after its suitor accused Provident’s CEO of letting shareholders down.

John van Kuffeler, Chief Executive of Non Standard Finance, accused Provident of having “no credible vision for the future”.

The move comes after Bradford-based Provident bolstered its board and urged shareholders to reject a £1.3bn hostile takeover Non-Standard Finance (NSF) which it describes as financially flawed.

In response Mr van Kuffeler said: “The front page of the Provident Circular tells shareholders not to allow their company’s future to be put at risk.

“I couldn’t agree more. With Provident being led by a management team with no credible vision for the future and by a CEO who has let down Provident shareholders as senior independent director, executive chairman and CEO, we urge the Provident shareholders to accept our Offer without delay so that we can get on with the job of fixing and de-risking Provident’s problems, restoring its business culture and unlocking substantial value through the execution of our transformation plan.

“Our Offer will create a leading non-standard finance group with strong positions in all four main segments of the sector and a management team with significantly more relevant experience than that of Provident (even following Provident’s addition of two directors fresh from the failures at Cattles and Wonga). We believe our Offer and our proposed strategy will again deliver good customer outcomes and improved returns to all shareholders, which is why, as previously announced, we already have such substantial shareholder support.”

The board of Bradford-based Provident has announced the appointment of Robert East as a non-executive director and chairman of Vanquis Bank, subject to regulatory approvals. Provident has hired Neil Chandler as managing director of Vanquis Bank. He will join the Vanquis Bank board and start as managing director on April 15, subject to regulatory approvals. The board has also announced the appointment of Graham Lindsay as a non-executive director.

In a statement, Provident reiterated its belief that NSF’s nil-premium offer “is not in the best interests of all Provident shareholders”.

The statement added: “It is strategically and financially flawed and presents significant risk in terms of both execution and shareholder value.

“The Provident board is committed to maximising value for all Provident shareholders and will explore all appropriate alternatives to achieve this objective.”

Provident’s board believes that the NSF proposal has “significant flaws” and would have long-lasting, detrimental consequences for Provident’s shareholders and customers.