Montagu in the soup over `double booking'

A City row has erupted between Johnston Group and its former adviser Samuel Montagu, in which the company has accused the merchant bankers of having advised a hostile predator TT Group at the same time as it still represented Johnston.

A spokesman for Samuel Montagu, a subsidiary of HSBC, dismissed the accusations by Johnston's chairman Gordon Bissett, and described the letter to shareholders in which the chairman made them as "regrettable and somewhat hysterical".

SBC Warburg has since taken over as adviser to Johnston, and supports Mr Bissett's letter attacking Samuel Montagu.

Gordon Bisset urges shareholders in the letter to ignore TT's bid, and says he is seeking clarification from Samuel Montagu on its relationship with TT Group, which launched its unsolicited bid for Johnston earlier this month.

Mr Bisset said: "Samuel Montagu, advisers to TT, were our advisers too. They faxed a letter of resignation to me on the morning of launching the unsolicited tender on behalf of TT.''

Bisset said TT had been purchasing Johnston shares since January and adds: "I am seeking clarification of Samuel Montagu's role in and knowledge of this.

"I have more than once sought confirmation from Samuel Montagu that no employee of Samuel Montagu who has had any dealings with Johnston Group has taken any part in advising TT on any aspect of the tender offer," he said, adding that the company has not responded.

"Aside from the regulatory issues raised, I am appalled by Samuel Montagu's conduct in this sorry affair, which I believe falls well short of what a client is entitled to expect," Mr Bisset said. He concluded that TT's offer of 500p a share "grossly undervalues the earnings and prospects of Johnston Group" and he urged shareholders to ignore it.

A spokesman for Samuel Montagu rejected Mr Bisset's comments yesterday: "Samuel Montagu has never given advice to Johnston, we have never done a deal for them, we were never going to do a deal for them. We were not in possession of price sensitive information when TT was preparing its approach.

"Johnston did list us as their adviser in their accounts. This was simply because Philip Kendall [of Samuel Montagu] knew them. Mr Kendall left to join Coopers & Lybrand six months ago. Johnston know that and SBC Warburg know that. We are very annoyed," the spokesman said.

He added that Bisset acknowledged in his letter to shareholders that the Takeover Panel had already ruled there were no regulatory issues involved in Samuel Montagu's position.

The Johnston letter says it has raised concerns with the UK Takeover Panel over TT Group's use of Samuel Montagu as advisers.

Johnston said the Takeover Panel has ruled that because TT's tender offer is governed by the Substantial Acquisition Rules, the provisions and protections of the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers do not apply. ``We are considering the wider regulatory position with our advisers," Mr Bisset said.

TT Group on 6 June announced a tender offer for 2.9 million Johnston ordinary shares at 500p each, representing a 27.46 per cent stake. TT Group already owns 2.53 per cent of Johnston.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk