Investor attacks Hambros

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Regent Pacific, a Hong Kong investment group, yesterday appeared to be trying to put Hambros into play as a takeover target by disclosing a 3 per cent stake and mounting an attack on the board's performance.

Jim Mellon, chairman of Regent Pacific, said in a written statement: "Hambros appears to us to be an undervalued and undermanaged enterprise. It could be said that the board is beautifully decorated but it seems that the company itself is in urgent need of repairs. We believe that we will profit from an investment in Hambros shares."

Mr Mellon said later: "We have bought an undervalued stock and we will see what happens. Cyclically it seems like a good time to buy a stake." He added: "Something has got to happen."

The statement attacking the board was sent to Sir Chips Keswick, Hambros chief executive, ahead of the announcement.

Sir Chips said Hambros did not know Regent or do any business with it, and neither did it know Mr Mellon. "As a 3 per cent shareholder we look forward to meeting them," he added.

Regent Pacific has spent pounds 14m buying shares in the merchant bank. The money came from Regent's own capital and not from funds under management for clients.

A year ago Regent launched a successful hostile takeover bid for GT Chile, a pounds 250m offshore fund manager, and it is engaged in a battle for control of Pioneer Industries, a holding company for a small 4.5 per cent stake in the giant Bangkok Bank of Thailand.

Hambros has recently completed a nine-month review of its long-term strategy, which was published in the annual report in July. Its shares have risen well above the low of 182p in June last year, adding 9p to 266.5p yesterday.