Pawnbroker set for £35m stock rescue package

Michael Bow
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TRADERS turned on high street pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond (A&B) yesterday after it laid plans for an emergency £35m cash bailout to salvage the troubled business.

The Bristol-based outfit, the UK’s second biggest pawnbroker behind H&T, lost nearly half its value after shares fell over 40 per cent, slashing the value of the 30-year old firm by about £30m.

The plunge in value followed proposals announced yesterday to tap investors for £35m to help relieve its mounting debt burden.

The company’s biggest shareholder Ezcorp International, which owns 29 per cent, will underwrite the offer. At 50p a share, the offer is a significant discount to yesterday’s closing price.

A mounting £51m debt burden and a crash in the gold price, which it relies on for gold pawning, have waylaid the company and pushed it nearer to a default on its bank loans.

A&B said it hoped to have reached agreement with lending banks and Ezcorp over the rescue package by the end of today.

The company has also announced a new chief executive. Former Provident Financial executive director Chris Gillespie will take the helm from former interim boss Greville Nicholls, who was appointed in April. Nicholls will revert back to his role as non-executive chairman.

“I am confident that Chris’s consumer financial services and lending background, together with his board level management and leadership experience, will be significant contributors to begin turning around the business,” Nicholls said.