Amigo founder rules out start­ing ri­val firm as he aims for top job

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Michael O’Dwyer

THE founder of Amigo has quashed spec­u­la­tion that he could launch a com­peti­tor to take on the trou­bled high-in­ter­est lender if he fails to se­cure a third spell on its board.

James Be­n­amor has de­manded to be in­stalled as chief ex­ec­u­tive as he seeks a come­back af­ter re­sign­ing as a di­rec­tor for a sec­ond time in March.

Mr Be­n­amor will call a share­holder vote on Thurs­day if his pro­pos­als are not met, but in­sists he will not com­pete with the busi­ness that he set up 15 years ago, should this gam­bit fail.

Glen Craw­ford, for­mer Amigo boss, is cur­rently ex­pected to be re­in­stalled as chief ex­ec­u­tive at the firm once he re­ceives reg­u­la­tory ap­proval, af­ter a 16-month ab­sence due to health prob­lems. But Mr Be­n­amor wants Mr Craw­ford to in­stead run only the firm’s sub­sidiary, which is reg­u­lated by the Fi­nan­cial Con­duct Au­thor­ity.

Mr Be­n­amor also de­manded that Roger Lover­ing, in­terim chair­man, be sacked. He wants Nayan Kis­nad­wala, chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, to be re­placed by a “ca­pa­ble” suc­ces­sor within 30 days.

The move sparked spec­u­la­tion from an­a­lysts at Good­body that Mr Be­n­amor’s Rich­mond Group could launch a ri­val firm once its Amigo share­hold­ing fell be­low 10pc, as it would then be free from a non-com­pete clause.

Rich­mond Group al­ready has an in­ter­na­tional guar­an­tor lend­ing busi­ness. Mr Be­n­amor said: “Rich­mond Group has no plans to launch, fund or in­vest in any … reg­u­lated com­peti­tor to Amigo.”

Re­spond­ing to Mr Be­n­amor’s de­mands yes­ter­day, Amigo said that Mr Craw­ford had told the board he was not pre­pared to work for the firm in any cir­cum­stances where the founder re­turned to a po­si­tion of in­flu­ence.

Amigo lends up to £10,000 to bor­row­ers with low credit rat­ings, pro­vided a friend or rel­a­tive agrees to step in if they fail to re­pay.

Its board has agreed that Mr Craw­ford can ter­mi­nate his con­tract if Mr Be­n­amor suc­ceeds in win­ning a seat at a share­holder vote, the com­pany said.

Mr Craw­ford’s re­turn as chief ex­ec­u­tive was pred­i­cated on Mr Be­n­amor’s dec­la­ra­tion that he was sell­ing down his en­tire 61pc share­hold­ing, Amigo added.

Re­spond­ing on Twit­ter, Mr Be­n­amor said that the chances of Mr Craw­ford re­sign­ing if the pro­pos­als were voted through “are roughly 0pc”.

Mr Be­n­amor has been sell­ing his shares since he failed to oust the pre­vi­ous bosses at a vote in June, in which he agreed not to vote.

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