The predator which sought to buy doorstep lender Provident Financial faces becoming prey itself after a share price plunge.
Non-Standard Finance tried to snap up its larger competitor the Provvy in a doomed £1.3billion raid earlier this year.
Shares in NSF – which reports half-year results today – have more than halved since it first announced the botched plot, as traders fret over its future.
The collapse of the deal was a personal humiliation for John van Kuffeler, NSF’s 70-year-old boss, who previously ran the Provvy for 22 years
Shareholders are now hoping a white-knight buyer comes in to rescue NSF, sources said.
It has been suggested the Provvy could turn the tables on its former aggressor and mount a takeover bid of its own.
However, one analyst told the Mail they thought a private equity buyer might be more likely to make an offer for the firm.
Shares in NSF – which has around 180,000 customers for its high-interest loans – have dropped 51 per cent, wiping £108million off its value since it announced its shock offer for the Provvy.
They did rise 1.8 per cent, or 0.6p, to 33.6p yesterday, however.
The company sought to capitalise on problems at its larger rival, which has been reeling due to an IT meltdown which wrecked debt collections and fines from regulators.
But despite a war of words between the two sides, NSF failed to win overwhelming support from Provvy shareholders and ultimately backed down.
The collapse of the deal was a personal humiliation for John van Kuffeler, NSF’s 70-year-old boss, who previously ran the Provvy for 22 years and had insisted he had the expertise to turn it around.
NSF is thought to have been weakened by a damaging critique of its accounts from the Provvy during the takeover battle.
The Provvy claimed its rival breached company law over dividend payments, sparking concerns about its governance.
The unnamed analyst told the Mail last night: ‘Van Kuffeler should be – and probably is – talking to private equity and looking for a solution.’