Cowdery sizes up A&L and Paragon

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The Independent Online

Entrepreneur Clive Cowdery is thought to be ready to turn his attention to lenders Alliance & Leicester and Paragon after being forced to abandon his plan to inject £400m into Bradford & Bingley.

Mr Cowdery has vowed to continue with his £2bn plan, through his investment company Resolution, to merge several smaller UK banks and lenders into a single larger bank. A&L and Paragon – with market capitalisations of £1.3bn and £230m respectively – are believed to be top of his list.

On Friday, Mr Cowdery, who had support from 25 per cent of B&B shareholders, dramatically withdrew his rescue plan for the mortgage lender, saying the "entrenched position" of the board, which had repeatedly refused him access to its books, made it impossible to move forward. B&B shares plummeted 21 per cent to 63p and shareholders fiercely criticised the lender over its failure to engage with Resolution.

B&B defended its actions, saying Cowdery's proposal would have allowed B&B to be taken over without Resolution paying a premium and that it had not provided details about the funding and ownership structure.

Shareholders are now almost certain to vote for the existing £258m rights issue and the £179m sale of a 23 per cent stake to American private equity firm Texas Pacific Group.

A spokesman for Rod Kent, the embattled chairman of B&B, said "he is not doing interviews".

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