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NARS jobs on line as control shifts

Guinness Peat Group and JO Hambro have acquired a controlling 58.37 per cent stake in Nationwide Accident Repair Services after its board was forced to recommend their improved offer. The two joint venture capitalists are considering two options for Nationwide: dispose of non-profitable centres and install a management team to turnaround the remainder, or completely break up and sell off the 65 bodyshops.

Mark Butcher, GPG investment manager, is leaning towards retaining the profitable parts of the business, although analysts favour the latter option. “The intention is to keep most of the business together,” says Butcher. “We will look at individual sites and assess them as we go along. Until we have completed this process, it is too early to say which sites will go.”

Nationwide's four outlets within the M25 are likely to be sold. They would attract high premiums if sold to property developers. Leading repairer groups, such as Howard Basford, in which Ford has a 49 per cent stake, could be interested in other sites. GPG and JO intend to carry out a strategic review of the business before outlining their plans.

Analysts expect Nationwide chief executive Adrian Dunleavy to be ousted. GPG has been highly critical of his management style after the company issued a profit warning earlier this year and then revealed accounting irregularities at its parts division. Dunleavy said he was disappointed with the outcome and urged GPG and JO not to damage the business.

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