Regan restarts career after Co-op acquittal

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The Independent Online

Andrew Regan, the businessman behind a controversial bid for the Co-op seven years ago, is to stage a comeback today when he emerges as chief executive of a listed company.

Andrew Regan, the businessman behind a controversial bid for the Co-op seven years ago, is to stage a comeback today when he emerges as chief executive of a listed company.

Mr Regan, who was acquitted last year on a charge of theft over the Co-op bid, will lead Corvus Capital, a cash shell, having bought most of the 50.1 per cent stake held by Everdene Group for about £9m.

Corvus, which is listed on London's AIM but registered in the British Virgin Islands, will be used for acquiring undervalued companies. Mr Regan, 38, has developed a computer system for analysing firms whose share prices do not reflect their cash flows or the value of underlying assets. He used the method for putting together a bid for Mothercare, but was forced to ditch it after the share price shot up.

After consulting the Takeover Panel, Mr Regan believes he will not have to launch an offer for all of Corvus, despite acquiring more than 30 per cent, a holding that would usually trigger a bid under the City Takeover Code. He will sell on some of his Corvus holding to take his stake down to 29 per cent.

Mr Regan's 1997 failed £1.2bn bid for the Co-op was backed by a number of leading City institutions, including the fund manager Jupiter, then run by John Duffield. Mr Duffield's current investment group, New Star Asset Management, has an 8 per cent stake in Corvus and is supporting Mr Regan's move.

Mr Regan had said he wanted to restart his career when he was cleared in 2003, after three trials, of allegations relating to his bid for the Co-op. The Monaco-based businessman was accused of stealing £2.4m from his company to bribe Co-op executives to secure an extension to a supply contract. Mr Regan said that he was the victim of a dishonest Dutch businessman.

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