Resurge sets sights on London Forfaiting in £31m bid battle

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Jonathan Rowland, the serial corporate raider, has turned his sights on London Forfaiting, the international trade finance company already under offer from a Maltese bank.

Mr Rowland's turnaround finance company, Resurge, yesterday said that it was in talks with London Forfaiting's board. These talks may lead to an offer that would trump the £31m bid from the Maltese-listed trade finance bank, FIMBank. "We have been following the company for about 12 months now and... we are finalising whether to put forward a bid," Mr Rowland said. "It operates in an area we like the look of and we think there is an opportunity to reinvent the business. It has a big cash balance and it looks like an underdeveloped company."

The offer may be made in cash, or a mixture of cash and shares, and the company may be reversed into the Resurge group. London Forfaiting has been up for sale since last September. If Resurge is successful, London Forfaiting will have to pay a £310,000 break fee to FIMBank for reneging on its offer. The 29.5p a share offered by FIMBank is already an 118 per cent premium to London Forfaiting's share price before the group put itself up for sale.

London Forfaiting's board said it stuck by the FIMBank offer, saying there was no certainty Resurge would come forward with a counter bid. Shareholders have until 12 August to agree to the FIMBank's offer. London Forfaiting was formed in 1984 to provide financing in overseas trade. It was floated in London at 160p a share 15 years ago but has struggled in recent years from crises that hit emerging markets.

Resurge has been buying contracts for difference in London Forfaiting shares, representing 3.1 per cent of the company, before it had decided to pursue bid talks so that it could capitalise on possible offers for the company. Mr Rowland said he did not believe any further bids would be forthcoming.