Jupiter may sue Hambros over role in Co-op bid

The Co-op saga took a fresh turn yesterday when it emerged that Jupiter International was threatening to take legal action against Hambros Bank for the return of its investment in Galileo, the vehicle set up by Andrew Regan for his abortive pounds 1.2bn bid. It is understood the investment was in the region of pounds 1m.

Jupiter claims its decision to invest in Galileo was based on information provided by Hambros which Jupiter did not know had been obtained illegally with the assistance of Allan Green, the Co-op's former retailing controller who was sacked for his part in the bid.

Hambros has not yet received a writ from Jupiter regarding the claim. However, discussions have taken place between Jupiter and its solicitors on whether there are grounds for legal action. It is understood that Hambros is likely to settle the claim though a spokesman for the bank declined to comment yesterday.

The legal action is a fresh blow for Hambros which has seen its reputation severely damaged by its involvement in the Co-op affair. The Norton Rose inquiry into its role in the failed bid is due to be finalised next month. Peter Large, one of the bank's corporate finance executives, stepped down from the bank at his own request pending the findings of the inquiry.

The Co-op dropped its civil claim for damages against Mr Regan, his business partner, David Lyons, Lanica Trust and Galileo in return for a settlement of around pounds 750,000. However, a criminal action against Mr Regan and Mr Lyons for the theft of information from the Co-operative Wholesale Society will go ahead. A hearing has been scheduled for next Wednesday though it is not known if Mr Regan will appear in person. The two men have said they intend to defend the proceedings "vigorously".

Lanica Trust shares have been suspended since January but are expected to resume trading following the publication of its annual results. This was scheduled to have been this week but has been delayed. Lanica invested around pounds 600,000 in Galileo. When the bid failed Galileo was put into voluntary liquidation by Mr Regan.

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