Ex-min­is­ter joins board of trou­bled doorstep lender

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Lucy Bur­ton

FOR­MER Con­ser­va­tive min­is­ter Mar­got James has joined the board of doorstep lender Prov­i­dent Fi­nan­cial af­ter step­ping down from Par­lia­ment last year.

Ms James will serve as a non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor at the com­pany, which hands out high-in­ter­est credit cards and loans to bor­row­ers with a poor re­pay­ment his­tory and is widely known as “the Provvy”.

She served as an MP from 2010 to 2019 and held a num­ber of gov­ern­ment of­fices, in­clud­ing as small busi­ness min­is­ter and dig­i­tal min­is­ter un­der Theresa May.

The politi­cian stoked con­tro­versy last year by say­ing it would be “a bad thing for the coun­try” if the Con­ser­va­tives won a ma­jor­ity in the elec­tion. She said the best gov­ern­ment she ever served in was dur­ing the Coali­tion, where the Lib­eral Democrats “acted as a very nec­es­sary break on our party’s Right-wing obsession with Brexit”.

The Stour­bridge MP was also one of the 21 Tory rebels to be kicked out of the party af­ter back­ing a plan to take con­trol of the Com­mons timetable to pass leg­is­la­tion to block a no-deal Brexit. She was then re­in­stated fol­low­ing a meet­ing with Boris John­son, the Prime Min­is­ter, but did not stand in De­cem­ber’s elec­tion.

Prov­i­dent has suf­fered a dif­fi­cult few years, with its share price fall­ing from over £23 in mid-2017 to £1.65. A botched IT up­grade in 2017 cost for­mer boss Peter Crook his job, wiped £1.7bn off Prov­i­dent’s mar­ket value in a sin­gle day and trig­gered profit warn­ings.

Mal­colm Le May, the cur­rent chief, a for­mer in­vest­ment banker who worked for Bar­clays in New York and was a non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor at Prov­i­dent from 2014 un­til he took the top job in 2018, has been fight­ing to re­vamp the busi­ness since tak­ing over.

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