Montague's assets 'cover loans': Tiphook chief reassures banks on pounds 30m debts Bankruptcy petition not yet served

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The Independent Online
ROBERT Montague, the Tiphook chief executive whose personal debts have been estimated at more than pounds 30m, has told creditor banks that he has sufficient assets to cover his liabilities.

The head of the trailer rental group also said he was meeting the terms of a pounds 2.3m loan from Royal Bank of Scotland, which last week filed a bankruptcy petition against him. Yesterday, the petition had still not been served.

Ian Clubb, the incoming chairman of Tiphook, which has been renamed Central Transport Rental Group, has said he needs to keep Mr Montague on the board to help solve the company's financial crisis. If he is declared bankrupt, Mr Montague will be disqualified from being a director.

Revelations at the weekend that Mr Montague's debts are pounds 30m could threaten the company's future strategy. But a source close to Tiphook's banks said Mr Montague had a 'myriad of assets'.

The spokesman refused to be specific, but added: 'This figure has not emerged overnight. The company's creditor banks have known about it for a long time.'

Mr Montague had said the RBS loan was being serviced and the bankruptcy petition was 'part of the wider financial game that's played out when things go wrong'. RBS could not be contacted.

As well as the personal debt to Royal Bank, Mr Montague is believed to owe several million pounds to Barclays Bank. Both debts relate to loans on his 1,500- acre estate at Pusey, Oxfordshire. Mr Montague also owes at least pounds 10m to Commerzbank, which is a principal bank to Tiphook. A Barclays spokesman confirmed it was reviewing its options over the loan, and added that it was not the largest lender to Mr Montague.

Despite Mr Montague's attempt to calm fears over a possible financial crisis, there was still concern that he cannot repay his debts.

Pusey Hall, bought for about pounds 7.5m in 1990, is believed to be worth less. Mr Montague has large shareholdings, and family trusts own substantial assets, but there was doubt that their value is anything close to pounds 30m.

Mr Montague was not available for comment.