Claims Direct founders Tony Sullman and Colin Poole are set to liquidate their 43% stake in the company if shareholders reject their offer to buy back all remaining shares at 10p each.

The company's two non-executive directors are refusing to increase their bid from 10p, despite receiving acceptances from only 0.1% of Claims Direct shareholders.

The bid has been branded “deeply cynical” and “opportunistic” by the company's four independent directors who have advised shareholders not to accept the offer.

Company director David Hankinson said: “0.1% acceptances for 21 days' effort underlines the opportunistic nature of the offer. Shareholders should continue to take no action.”

Claims Direct non-executive deputy chairman Poole responded: “It is unfortunate, but one has to divorce emotion from the argument.”

He said the offer reflected a “honest valuation” of the company's worth.

Sullman and Poole, operating through a separate company called Barker Securities, have extended their existing offer by another 14 days.

Poole said if Barker Securities' offer failed to attract sufficient backing after the extended deadline, they would be unable to make a further bid for another 12 months.

Poole said he had expected a low number of acceptances because institutional shareholders had not had sufficient time to consider their offer.

He said: “We have said 10p is the right price and we are not going to increase it. If the offer fails again, we will consider selling our stock on the open market. Fourteen days is enough time for shareholders to consider the offer.”

Poole said he and Sullman wanted to return Claims Direct to private ownership to restructure the company away from the glare of publicity.

He said: “We need to renegotiate the company's contracts with its strategic partners, including its underwriters and franchisees, and rationalise and review the way it markets itself. We need to generate claims without relying on television advertising.

“I do not believe this is possible in the glare of the media,” he added.

Poole believes Claims Direct may be in “exploratory” takeover talks with “one or two” third parties.

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