Lanica looks to end suspension

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The Independent Online
Andrew Regan's Lanica Trust said yesterday it expected its stock market listing to be restored later this month following the publication of its annual results and clarification of its legal position relating to the damages claim against it by the Co-operative Wholesale Society.

Lanica's shares have been suspended since February when details of its ultimately failed pounds 1.2bn break-up bid for the CWS became public.

Lanica also said that Mr Regan and his business partner David Lyons intend to "vigorously" contest the legal action against them. They face a private prosecution brought by the CWS for their leading role in the break-up bid. A statement of claim is required to be served by the CWS shortly and Lanica said it would seek legal advice at that time as to the extent of its liability.

The brief statement, which was issued late yesterday afternoon, is Lanica's first communication since the abortive bid which was planned through its Galileo offshoot. No one was available from the company to comment further.

Given the failure of the bid, Lanica's shares, which were suspended at pounds 19.50 having soared in the previous two months, are likely to go into freefall. Galileo was put into liquidation earlier this week though the liquidators say there should be sufficient funds to make a reasonable payment to creditors.

Meanwhile, Jupiter Asset Management became the last of Mr Regan's main backers to distance themselves from his bid.

In a brief statement it said that "having initiated the liquidation of Galileo Group it has no further connection with any of the directors of Galileo".

It added that it did not receive any documents alleged to have been stolen from the CWS.

It continued: "JAM was shocked to learn that some of the documents it received from Galileo's professional advisers may have contained information improperly obtained from the CWS. JAM was not aware of the possibility until it became public information."

Jupiter had acquired pounds 1m of shares in Lanica in an off-market purchase last December. It also invested pounds 3m in Galileo. A spokesman said that at the time of the investment Jupiter knew that the CWS was the bid target. Jupiter believes that most of those funds remain unspent and is confident of a near full recovery.

Earlier this week Killick & Co, the private client stockbroker, issued a statement condemning the use of "dishonest tactics". Schroders, the other main backer, has already distanced itself from the affair as have Lanica and Galileo's other main advisers which included Hambros Bank, Nomura International and legal firm Travers Smith Braithwaite. HSBC James Capel has resigned as broker to Lanica Trust.

Investigations are also under way by the Serious Fraud Office and the Stock Exchange.

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