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Friday, October 8, 1999 Published at 17:58 GMT 18:58 UK

Business: The Company File

Fraud office warrant for Regan

Andrew Regan's 1997 takeover bid for CWS failed

The Serious Fraud Office has issued a warrant for the arrest of Andrew Regan, the businessman behind a failed takeover bid for the Co-operative Wholesale Society.

The warrant relates to an alleged 1995 theft of 2.4m linked to Hobson, the food service company he ran at the time.

The action comes following an SFO investigation into a contract between Hobson and CWS, during which Mr Regan was interviewed.

The entrepreneur is the fourth person for whom a warrant has been issued in connection with the investigation.

Possible extradition

Two former senior executives at the CWS, Allan Green and David Chambers, were last month charged with corruption relating to the deal.

City lawyer Paul Thomas was also charged with aiding and abetting the two men to commit an offence.

They were all bailed to appear in court next year.

Mr Regan came to prominence in 1997 when he launched a 1.2bn takeover bid for CWS, which was rejected by its members.

An SFO spokesman said that extradition had not been ruled out if Monaco-based Regan declined to return to Britain to face the charge.

Supply deal

The allegations relate to a 2.4 million payment to Trellis International, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands, said to be for services linked to the re-negotiation of the food supply contract.

Hobson had earlier bought the CWS Food Manufacturing Group for 104 million in a deal including an agreement to supply the Co-op with its own-brand products for three years.

The following year, in 1995, Hobson paid the CWS 2.85 million to extend the deal by another two-and-a-half years.

Soon after the contract was agreed, Hobson was sold to Hillsdown Holdings.

Mr Regan's solicitors Burton Copeland declined to comment on the arrest warrant.

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