Montague likely to win time to seek deal

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Robert Montague, the embattled chief executive of the container leasing group Tiphook, is likely to win a four-week breathing space from Oxford's bankruptcy court this Friday in order to seek a face-saving deal with personal creditors owed pounds 40m.

Royal Bank of Scotland served a bankruptcy petition on Mr Montague a month ago for pounds 2.3m, relating to his 1,300-acre estate in Pusey, Oxfordshire. On Friday he will propose an alternative way forward, an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA), which would require the agreement of three-quarters of his creditors by value.

Bankruptcy courts usually allow people time to seek an IVA, in which case Mr Montague will be given a period during which all legal action by creditors is put on hold.

At the end of the period he would return to the court and present his plan, usually phased payments to creditors of part of the debts, often funded out of future earnings.

Mr Montague is unlikely to appear personally at the court, and will probably be represented by his counsel.

His two other main creditors are Commerzbank and Barclays. Lloyds Bank is also owed money, but less than Royal Bank. Commerzbank is favourable to an IVA, with Barclays still undecided.

One obstacle to an IVA is the fact that Mr Montague's main asset, the pounds 8m estate, is already mortgaged to Barclays and his 139ft yacht to Commerzbank.

The result of the hearing will be keenly awaited at Tiphook, now renamed Central Transport Rental Group. If he is made bankrupt, Mr Montague will be barred from being a director.