Provident moves to reassure investors as sub-prime lender fights hostile takeover bid from rival Non-Standard Finance

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Doorstep lender Provident Financial reported that the business’s performance has picked up as it continues to fight against a £1.3bn hostile takeover by smaller rival Non-Standard Finance (NSF).

The firm reported that customer growth in its Vanquis Bank and home credit division was up 13 and 40 per cent respectively, and said historical regulatory issues were approaching a resolution.

Read more: NSF sets new date for Provident shareholders to back £1.3bn merger

The Financial Conduct Authority’s investigation into Moneybarn is close to being concluded and the Vanquis Bank repayment option plan is complete, Provident said, as it moved to reassure shareholders that the business is in safe hands.

Provident chief executive Malcolm Le May said he was pleased with the group’s first quarter results, adding that the firm had “diligently built on the stronger foundations established over the past 18 months”.

Provident’s trading update follows an increasingly heated war of words between the firm and NSF, which has seen the smaller firm brand Provident’s management team as “specialists in failure”.

Last week, NSF extended the deadline for the takeover to 15 May and urged shareholders to back the deal and break the “status quo”.

Read more: Provident lashes out at 'unlawful' NSF payments amid takeover dispute

NSF chief executive, and former Provident boss, John van Kuffeler also wrote to Provident shareholders to set out NSF’s plans for the merger, adding that it was “most upsetting” to watch Provident’s “recent significant decline”.

In recent years Provident has suffered profit warnings, a plunging share price and regulatory fines.