MAI raises stake in debt collector

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The Independent Online
THERE is speculation in the City that Lord Hollick, the Labour peer, will soon become a director at Intrum Justitia, enabling him to cast an acquisitive eye over the debt collection agency in which his MAI financial services group has been building a stake.

MAI yesterday disclosed it had increased its holding in the Dutch- based group from 8.43 to 11.4 per cent. Intrum is valued at around pounds 100m on last night's closing price of 89p, up 1p. MAI fell 4p to 103p.

The latest sharebuying followed closely the purchase of the original stake in late June from Bo Goranson, chairman and still 31 per cent shareholder in Intrum.

One City source said the addition to the holding had inevitably stirred up bid speculation, given that MAI had now committed more than pounds 11m cash to a stock sporting a historic yield of less than 4 per cent. MAI declined to comment on the rumours, but did confirm that it intended to take up an offer to appoint a representative to Intrum's supervisory board.

And in compliance with the law of the Netherlands Antilles, where Intrum is registered, MAI has notified Intrum that 'it may wish, within the next 12 months, to add to its investment in the company'.

Intrum, which recently secured contracts to collect licence fee debts for the BBC, increased pre- tax profits from pounds 8.65m to pounds 11.64m in 1991. Results for the first half of this year are due next month.

MAI is also due to report next month on the year to June. First half profits were slightly higher at pounds 30.2m against pounds 29.6m.