Regent plans early Hambros onslaught

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The Independent Online
Regent Pacific, the Hong Kong investment group, is to meet Hambros shareholders next week to lobby for its plans to break up the London investment bank, writes Peter Rodgers.

Jim Mellon, managing director of Regent, yesterday confirmed the start of the onslaught on Hambros, which was outlined last month.

He said: "We're going through all the numbers and working out more formally the proposals we roughly outlined before about distributing what we perceive as non-core assets. We'll then go round and see some of the principal shareholders and discuss with them what their views are."

He declined to say which shareholders the company had contacted, but the largest holders are Norwich Union, Guardian Royal Exchange and Banco Sao Paolo. GRE is, however, a close ally of Hambros and shares a chairman in the person of Lord Hambro, while Sao Paolo has a long-standing shareholding alliance and is thought to be supportive.

Mr Mellon, whose company holds 3 per cent of Hambros, said that other shareholders his firm had contacted had responded positively.

Regent said last month that Hambros should return capital to shareholders by selling affiliate companies, with the 51 per cent stake in Hambro Countrywide, the estate agency and financial services group, at the top of its disposal list.

Mr Mellon said that with a firm property market in the UK it was a good time to sell this business, and building societies in the UK would be the obvious choice as buyers.