British businessman who has interests around the world

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The Independent Online
Ronald Zimet, the businessman who received a pounds 2m "negotiation fee" from Andrew Regan in 1995, has a web of business interests across the world, writes Nigel Cope.

Though he is described as British his address is listed as Tel Aviv and he was understood to be in Israel yesterday.

Aged 51, he is a director of Investment Management and Finance, an asset management company based in Geneva, a non-executive director of Inventech, an industrial venture capital company based in Israel, and a director of Wrapco, a Dutch company. Trellis International, the company to which the payment from Mr Regan was made, is registered in the Cayman Islands.

His one UK directorship is as non-executive chairman of Freepages, a provider of telephone information services which is listed on the Alternative Investment Market.

The company came to the market in February 1996 through a pounds 30m reverse takeover of Blagg, the building materials group. Priced at 12p the shares have almost quadrupled and Freepages is now worth pounds 220m. Mr Zimet is one of the largest individual shareholders with a 15 per cent stake worth pounds 33m.

Owen Oyston, the Blackpool entrepreneur who was convicted of rape last year, used to have a near 10 per cent stake in Blagg and a small holding in Freepages. However, the company says he no longer appearson the shareholder register.

No one at Freepages' Oxfordshire offices was able to supply any additional information on Mr Zimet yesterday. The company's public relations advisers also had no details beyond a brief biographical statement.

However, it is expected that he will soon give his version of events that led to the pounds 2m payment in return for helping to negotiate an extension to a contract between the CWS and Hobson, Mr Regan's former food company.

As a Freepages spokesman said: "His name has been dragged through the mud on this so I would think he would like to say something."