November 24, 2017 / 7:35 AM / in a year

Provident Financial chairman Manjit Wolstenholme dies suddenly

(Reuters) - Former investment banker Manjit Wolstenholme, who took over the running of troubled British doorstep lender Provident Financial (PFG.L) three months ago, has died suddenly at the age of 53.

Wolstenholme, who joined Provident’s board in 2007, became executive chairman of the subprime lender in August after Peter Crook, who was its CEO for more than 10 years, stepped down.

Provident’s Senior Independent Director Malcolm Le May will take over as interim executive chairman, it said in a statement on Friday announcing Wolstenholme’s death.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened. Manjit was known and respected for her achievements,” Le May said.

Wolstenholme had a long career as a banker in the City of London where she became co-head of investment banking at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein and then a partner at boutique advisory firm Gleacher Shacklock.

She had stepped down as senior independent director at British financial spreadbetting firm CMC Markets Plc (CMCX.L) in July for personal reasons and at the time of her death, she held three other roles aside from her job at Provident.

A spokesman for Provident declined to comment on the circumstances of Wolstenholme’s death on Thursday.

A reluctance among high street banks to lend to risky borrowers since the financial crisis has made more Britons look to lenders charging higher interest rates like Provident.

The company has been trying to reorganise a door-to-door lending business that relies on self-employed agents offering high-interest loans, against a backdrop of broader public and political criticism of the high-interest lending sector.

It has also had to contend with lost income resulting from a Financial Conduct Authority investigation.

Wolstenholme replaced the managing director of Provident’s home credit business two days after her own appointment, dismissing suggestions it could be sold, and by October had set out a recovery plan for the unit.

Provident’s shares were slightly lower on Friday at 902 pence per share.

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Alexander Smith

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