FSA fines Hambros pounds 270,000 over CWS

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Andrew Garfield Financial Editor

THE FINANCIAL Services Authority, the City watchdog, yesterday fined Hambros, the City investment bank, pounds 270,000 for its role as adviser to Andrew Regan, the entrepreneur, in his controversial pounds 1.2bn bid for the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) in 1997. It is the second biggest fine ever given out to a City firm.

The three Hambros directors involved - Nigel Pantling, Peter Large and Andrew Salmon - have also been fined between pounds 8,000 and pounds 20,000 and ordered to pay pounds 10,000 costs each. Hambros has also been severely reprimanded and ordered to pay costs of pounds 80,000.

Mr Regan's audacious bid for the Co-op's retail business collapsed in April 1997 after detectives videotaped two senior Co-op executives handing over confidential papers in a car park.

Hambros and the individuals involved were found to have breached FSA principles in using the information - which included confidential mailing lists of Co-op members - in preparing the bid.

For Hambros, yesterday's announcement draws a line under an affair that ultimately cost it its independence. Hambros' corporate finance arm was subsequently taken over by Societe Generale, the French bank,which has agreed to pay the fine.

Mr Pantling and the two other directors quit the firm over the CWS bid. They have been reprimanded but are now free to resume their City careers. Last year the Crown Prosecution Service dropped theft charges against Mr Regan for lack of evidence. The Serious Fraud Office is still investigating the payment of commissions by Hobson, a food manufacturer owned by Mr Regan, into a Swiss bank account.