Pawnbroking firm’s shares suspended after banks reject management’s strategy

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SHARES in Albemarle & Bond were suspended yesterday after the stricken pawnbroker was told by its lenders that they will not be able to support its plans to save the business.

The banks’ rejection of the management strategy means there are just six days left to find a solution for the Reading-based group before a March 31 deadline.

It warned that, while it had enough cash to carry on trading, it would be unable to meet liabilities if all its debts are called in at that time.

Albemarle, which also trades as Herbert Brown, said a cut-price sale of the business was still a possibility but warned that the remaining options open to it “provide no realistic prospect of any value being attributable to the company’s ordinary shares”.

In January, analysts said the company looked likely to go into administration after it abandoned an attempt to sell itself, saying none of the proposals it had received represented a fair value for the business. Plunging gold prices and competition have left the group struggling with losses and overstretched finances. Albemarle has warned that earnings will be significantly below expectations and admitted it has resorted to melting down gold jewellery stocks to raise cash. The group has 24 branches in Yorkshire. Leeds-based Herbert Brown, which dates from 1840, was bought by Albemarle & Bond in 2007.

Philip Lunn

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