Johnson Fry name reinstated at LIT: Troubled finance group clears last pounds 8m debt

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The Independent Online
CHARLES FRY, a key player in developing Business Expansion Schemes and tax avoidance strategies, achieved a notable victory in his five-year involvement with the troubled finance group LIT Holdings yesterday, when its shareholders voted to rename the group Johnson Fry.

In a 40-1 share consolidation, most of LIT's preference shares were converted into new ordinary shares and its last pounds 8m of indebtedness was paid off, leaving Mr Fry's company as the overwhelmingly dominant part of the group.

Mr Fry said he bitterly regretted selling Johnson Fry to LIT five years ago. 'They overpaid for us. You should always look very carefully at people who overpay for you. Also, I was only paid a third of it in cash, the rest in shares.'

He brushed aside as crazy one suggestion to liquidate the group at yesterday's extraordinary general meeting in London. The group was now capitalised by the market at pounds 45m, Mr Fry said, and making handsome profits on its residential property management and fund mangement businesses.

He said scrapping BES was not a mortal blow since the new Enterprise Investment Scheme introduced in the Budget could turn out to be even better. A lot depended on the details, which would be revealed in the Finance Act, he said. Mr Fry claims he has almost a monopoly in managing private residential property schemes.

He is also licking his lips over a huge new market opened up by the Government's legislation on compulsory competitive tendering for the management of local authority properties.

'Over 4 million properties will need new management in the next three years,' he said.