* Non-Standard Finance drops 1.3 bln stg bid Tuesday
* Provident says welcomes decision
* Shares in Provident up 7.2%, NSF shares down 1.9%
By Simon Jessop
LONDON, June 5 (Reuters) - Provident Financial’s board welcomed the collapse of a hostile takeover bid for the doorstep lender by sector rival Non-Standard Finance, which sent its shares higher on Wednesday.
NSF’s decision to ditch the 1.3 billion pound ($1.65 billion) deal late Tuesday ended a war of words lasting several months that pitched institutional investors against each other in the battle to define the strategy of Provident.
Shares in Provident were up 7.2% at 0712 GMT on Wednesday, the second-top gainer in Britain’s mid-cap index. Shares in NSF were down 1.9%.
The decision to ditch the deal, which NSF said had followed talks with the regulator, was in the best interests of Provident’s shareholders, Provident said in a statement on Wednesday.
The board of Provident said it “greatly regrets the unnecessary distraction, cost and impact of the uncertainty on Provident’s customers and staff caused by NSF pursuing its extended hostile offer”.
$1 = 0.7876 pounds Reporting by Simon Jessop; editing by Carolyn Cohn