Regent Pacific, the soon-to-be listed fund management group, says it has taken an aggressive stance on merchant bank Hambros Bank, whose shares it believes are underperforming. In a stock exchange announcement, Hambros Bank said Regent had disclosed that it was a 3.02 per cent shareholder in the bank. Regent director Sophia Shaw said Hambros was regarded as having valuable assets but that they did not seem to be reflected in the bank's share price. She said Regent had asked for a meeting with the bank's board. The fund management group has a formidable reputation for identifying underperforming companies and closed-end investment funds, in which it then builds up a stake in order to force the company either to sell its assets, or take other action to boost its share price, including appointing Regent-nominated board members. However, Ms Shaw said Regent did not want to be seen to be opposing the management. 'It is not our vocation to be against the management of companies that are underperforming, but if we find we have built up a stake, and as a company that invests on behalf of our clients, we want to be able to produce a return.' News of the Regent stake saw Hambros shares soar to a new high of 280 pence (about HK$33.48) before slipping back one pence from its opening to 265.5 pence. Regent's Undervalued Assets Fund also reached a new high, gaining 0.75 pence to 141.5 pence. Hambros, whose chief executive is Sir Chips Keswick, the brother of Jardine Matheson chairman Simon Keswick, has embarked on a strategic review in a bid to address its problems, and has set out a series of objectives to improve its performance. The strategy includes withdrawing from low-margin lending, rationalising banking operations, developing fund management and private client banking. It says it has identified savings of GBP8 million. Hambros is capitalised about GBP474 million. Ms Shaw said the group had a strong name in Britain, and a reputable brand, and had some respectable business areas, particularly corporate finance, asset management and other financial services. 'From an investment manager's point of view, we have valued the business, and we feel that the assets they have are not being optimised,' she added. Regent is said to be critical of the Hambros board, which includes Lord Kingsdown, the former governor of the Bank of England, and Edward Adeane, former private secretary to Prince Charles.