Tuesday 2 April 2019 8:24 am

Provident Financial questions Non-Standard Finance’s past dividends as it attempts to dodge its bid

Doorstep lender Provident Financial blasted suitor Non-Standard Finance (NSF) today, questioning past dividend payments as it tries to evade NSF’s clutches.

Provident put a series of questions to NSF, including questions on “specific concerns regarding certain historical dividend payments and share buybacks”.

NSF put out its own stock market announcement today, trumpeting the fact it had received acceptances of its offer from Provident shareholders representing more than 50 per cent of Provident’s share capital.

Read more: Provident puts up staunch defence against 'risky and flawed' £1.3bn bid

The acceptance condition requires acceptances representing at least 90 per cent of Provident’s share capital.

NSF launched a £1.3bn all-share offer for fellow subprime lender Provident in February, pledging to revitalise the firm.

Provident, which has struggled with a falling share price, profit warnings and an investigation from the watchdog, hit out at the offer, branding it “irresponsible” and “opportunistic”.

At the time of NSF’s February offer, shareholders representing more than 50 per cent of Provident’s share capital, including Woodford Investment Management, Invesco Asset Management and Marathon Asset Management, had indicated they planned to accept the bid.

Read more: Provident brands NSF's £1.3bn hostile bid 'financially flawed'

Provident today asked if an intra group transaction at NSF in 2016 properly created profits available for distribution to shareholders, it asked if its October 2018 dividend payment was permissible under the Companies Act 2006 given the need to meet the net assets tests and it also asked if June and October distributions were covered by NSF’s distributable profits.

A spokesperson for NSF said: “We are looking at these questions so for now there is no further response.”