A FIERCE row has broken out between a Bradford lender and the company vying to take it over.

Provident's chairman, Patrick Snowball, has written to shareholders of the company urging them to reject the deal tabled by Non-Standard Finance plc because it is a "poorly thought-out transaction" and "dreadful deal".

Sub-prime lender NSF tabled an all-share takeover bid for the Bradford-based company at 511p per share, but bosses have only had bad things to say about the offer.

Mr Snowball, who has only been chairman for six months, has urged shareholders to stand by him and the board.

He wrote: "It is more of a coup d’état than a hostile takeover, spearheaded by a management team at NSF with a track record of value destructive acquisitions and facilitated by two powerful shareholders.

"I joined the board because I felt I could give support and assistance to the management team which had already made good progress with the turn-around of the business in 2018, seeking to address the poor delivery of the business in prior years which had led to regulatory and financial issues.

"We fully acknowledge those issues and this poor historical performance and our responsibility to deliver value and returns for you, our shareholders, but a flawed and risky transaction is the wrong way to proceed. I am confident that we have the right strategy and team in place to fulfil the value potential of Provident for our shareholders."

READ MORE: Man found guilty of murdering Provident debt collector

Provident has suffered a turbulent year and the company saw its shares tumble in January after it warned that profits will be at the lower end of expectations.

The group said it had seen a rise in bad debts at its Vanquis Bank arm and falling numbers of new accounts after clamping down on its lending.

And in June last year, Provident debt collector Tina Cantello, 49, was murdered after she was stabbed 30 times when she went to a client's home to collect money.

NSF bosses have been no less gracious about their counterparts and said the Provident Board is "determined to deflect from its history of self-inflicted wounds and incompetence."

John van Kuffeler, NSF’s group chief executive, said: "The Provident Board appears to be living in a very different world from its customers, employees and shareholders. It continues to celebrate “the substantial progress over the past 18 months” – a period in which Provident has had to be rescued by a rights issue, has issued a profits warning, has had an “irresponsible” advertising campaign banned and has paid out over £170 million in customer redress in one business division, whilst dealing with a regulatory investigation in another and a 200 per cent. increase in the number of new complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service in a third. Is this how the Provident Board measures success?”