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Amigo founder plays down merger talk

Michael O'Dwyer
·2-min read
James Benamor
James Benamor

Amigo Loans founder James Benamor has played down speculation he will merge the high interest lender with his overseas businesses if he wins a return to the board at a shareholder meeting on Tuesday. 

Mr Benamor called the shareholder vote in a bid to win a third spell on Amigo’s board and install himself as chief executive. 

The founder’s attempt to regain control of the Bournemouth-based firm sparked speculation from analysts and people close to the firm that he would seek to use some of Amigo’s £145m cash pile to purchase overseas lenders owned by Richmond Group, his investment vehicle. 

Richmond’s portfolio includes companies in Spain, Poland and the US. 

Mr Benamor, who has been critical of UK regulators, said in recent months that international markets present an opportunity for Amigo. 

He has also said that its Irish business “has proven that there is demand for Amigo’s products in markets which, unlike the UK regulated market, enjoy fair and stable rule of law”. 

Asked whether Amigo would purchase some or all of Richmond Group’s overseas lending businesses if he returns as chief executive, Mr Benamor said: “I do not see a sale of any [Richmond Group] assets to Amigo as being advantageous for Amigo right now. 

“However, Richmond Group has developed extensive expertise in overseas markets over the last three years, and I will bring that expertise with me on my return to Amigo for free.”

The resignation last week of chief executive-in-waiting, Glen Crawford, was a blow to Amigo.

The board renewed its plea to investors to oppose Mr Benamor’s proposals on Tuesday, which also include the removal of finance boss Nayan Kisnadwala and acting chairman Roger Lovering. 

Mr Benamor, who sold his majority stake after failing to oust Amigo’s board in June, has pledged to buy up to 29pc of the shares in Amigo for as much as 20p a share if he succeeds in Tuesday’s vote. Amigo floated with a £1.3bn valuation in 2018. 

Shares closed at 11.6p on Friday, valuing the firm at just £55m and suggesting that markets do not expect Mr Benamor’s coup to succeed.