Financial News

  • 25 March 2014, 9:18

Pawnbroker's Shares Frozen Amid Failure Fear

Shares in pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond have been suspended after creditors told the struggling chain they did not support its recovery plans.

The company said it would run out of money for trading and outstanding debt by March 31 if an extension was not given to its current covenant date.

The rejection by lenders means the Reading-based group must now find alternative funding avenues.

Albemale & Bond said a fire sale was possible but it warned its currently available options "provide no realistic prospect of any value being attributable to the company's ordinary shares".

The firm's shares have lost around 97% of their value in the last 12 months, and were halted on Monday at 6.65p each.

Albemarle & Bond has lurched from one crisis to another in the past year, even announcing a decision in December to melt its gold reserves to raise cash.

It had been hit by a 27% drop in the value of gold between March and November last year.

Sky News City Editor Mark Kleinman revealed three months ago that veteran investor Jon Mouton's Better Capital had been eyeing a takeover bid.

In January, the firm was tipped for administration by analysts after it abandoned a sale attempt, citing unfavourable valuations.

Founded in 1983 with a single shop in Bristol, the company expanded rapidly and established dozens of pop-up shops to take advantage of consumers needing quick cash.

In 2011, the company went as far as to declare "the age of the pawnbroker".

Its struggles has been exacerbated by a mass departure of board members, with five of its six non-executives quitting in December.

In a statement on Monday, the group said: "Over the weekend, the board was informed by the company's lenders that they will not be able to support the management turnaround plan for the business.

"The board is continuing to work with the company's lenders on possible alternative options for stakeholders.

"However, the board of Albemarle now believes that these remaining options open to the company, which could include the sale of the business at a level below the current level of financial indebtedness, provide no realistic prospect of any value being attributable to the company's ordinary shares."