Stricken gold broker looks for life-saving cash

Michael Bow
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TROUBLED pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond is in the market for an emergency bailout after its business was hit by a slide in the price of gold.

The company, which has more than 200 stores and is listed on the junior stock market in London, is understood to be close to securing the funds to keep it alive after tapping existing investors for cash.

Albemarle & Bond is the UK’s second largest pawnbroker but a double digit plunge in the price of gold, which is a mainstay of its broking business, has taken the shine off its earnings.

Brokers predict earnings will fall 25 per cent for the full year in 2013 and a further 15 per cent in 2014.

Its debt pile, which exceeds £50m, is also proving a headache and it is thought the fundraising could be used to service upcoming debt re-payments.

A spokeswoman for Albemarle & Bond declined to comment last night.

The company has been beset by problems since a global fall in the price of gold forced it to shelve former chief executive Barry Stevenson in April and replace him with previous boss and non-executive director Greville Nicholls.

The company was due to report its full year results last Tuesday but delayed them until this week. The results could come as early as tomorrow morning along with an announcement on the fundraising, the Sunday Times reported

Shares in the company closed down 2.3 per cent in trading on Friday at 125p, versus highs of up to 270p in October last year.