Rowland fights on in Forfaiting battle

Jonathan Rowland, the corporate raider, vowed to fight on yesterday in his battle to win control of London Forfaiting, the trade finance company, despite 52 per cent of shareholders giving their backing to another bid.

The board of London Forfaiting recommended a £31m bid from the Maltese bank, FIMBank, to its shareholders last month and then stood by FIMBank's 29.5p a share offer when Mr Rowland, through his company Resurge, announced last week that he was interested in tabling a counter bid.

Despite the intervention by Mr Rowland, FIMBank said yesterday it had irrevocable undertakings and valid acceptances from 51.8 per cent of London Forfaiting shareholders for its offer. This includes 13.3 per cent of shares owned by London Forfaiting directors. "Since 30 September 2002 there have been no other offers. It represents full and fair value and has the unanimous recommendation of the directors of London Forfaiting," a statement from FIMBank said.

This news, however, left Mr Rowland undeterred and he said he would be in a position to make shareholders a better offer by the end of the week.

"We are still very interested in the company and would urge shareholders not to take any action at this stage. We think the offer from FIMBank is poor - give us a few days and we will come up with a better offer," Mr Rowland said. He believes the company has been undervalued. Resurge is likely to put forward a bid of not less than £34m, which would invalidate the irrevocable support already given to FIMBank.

The FIMBank offer closes today at 3pm, and an announcement from the London Forfaiting board is expected tomorrow. It is thought likely that Mr Rowland will wait to see the level of support that shareholders give the FIMBank offer before making his bid, but a new offer could be put forward as soon as Friday. Shares in London Forfaiting yesterday closed unchanged - but above the level of FIMBank's offer - at 30.5p.