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Doorstep lender Provident halts face-to-face visits

(Reuters) - British doorstep lender Provident Financial <PFG.L> has paused face-to-face visits in its home credit business in light of a government-ordered lockdown, it said on Friday, as it withdrew 2020 targets due to the coronavirus crisis.

The company expects the virus-induced disruption to hamper both its credit issued and collections performance during this period. (

Before Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered Britons to exercise social distancing, about one-fourth of Provident's weekly collections were through non-cash methods, emphasising how important its doorstep collections are.

To shore up its finances during the crisis, Provident cancelled its planned dividend for 2019, a move that would save it 40 million pounds ($48.82 million).

The lender said it would tighten underwriting across its business and maintain tight cost control in each segment, especially when it comes to discretionary spend.

Provident also said it currently has capital headroom amounting to 200 million pounds.

"The decisive actions we are taking, together with our strong capital and liquidity positions, mean that I remain confident in the group's medium-term opportunity," Chief Executive Officer Malcolm Le May said.

(Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)