Hibu warns its shares could be worthless

THE PUBLISHER of the Yellow Pages said its restructuring programme may dilute the price of its shares to “little or no value”, as the firm attempts to pay off its rising debts.

Hibu, which changed its name from Yell earlier in the year, saw its shares fall by more than a third yesterday as it said it would miss its full-year earnings forecasts. “While no decision has yet been made, certain options may result in a dilution of existing shareholders’ interests including some options which may attribute little or no value to the group’s ordinary shares,” Hibu said.

The firm has built up debts of £2.2bn – far more than the firm’s £10.4m value based on its closing share price yesterday – after a round of acquisitions and a £1.4bn loss last year. The firm has been slow to adapt to the rise of internet listings and the decline of its phone book business. Hibu’s chief executive Mike Pocock was bullish about the company’s future yesterday, citing “constructive discussions” with the firm’s lenders.

“We are confident in the group’s four-year strategy to transform Hibu by capitalising on its unique position in the small and medium-sized enterprise community,” Pocock said.

“The group continues to progress our new strategy, developing and piloting new digital products.”

Panmure Gordon analyst Alex Degroote said: “The shares are probably totally worthless.”