Brent Walker set to report pounds 100m loss

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The Independent Online
BRENT WALKER, which has yet to find its feet more than 15 months after completing its pounds 1.4bn refinancing, is set to report another set of dreadful figures this week, with losses expected to approach pounds 100m.

This comes on top of a loss of pounds 387m in 1991 and of pounds 123m in 1990. Bankers to the group, who are also substantial shareholders, are anxiously awaiting a new corporate plan put together by Sir Keith Bright, the former head of London Transport who took over as chairman at the beginning of this year.

However the banks, led by Standard Chartered, will have to wait a little longer, as Sir Keith has not completed the new plan despite having promised it would be ready in the spring.

It is expected to be finished by the end of next month, and is unlikely to contain any of the radical propositions wanted by some of the group's bankers, which were hoping that Brent Walker might float either of its two main subsidiaries, the betting shop chain William Hill or the pub owner Pubmaster, on the stock market.

The latest deficit has been brought about because of further write-offs on the rump of assets held by Brent Walker which it has been trying to sell off. Nicholas Ward, the group's managing director, was put in charge of selling these assets, but resigned from the board earlier this year, having shouldered criticism from the banks about the length of time taken to sell them.

Ken Scobie, the chief executive brought in to shore up the refinancing when it looked like running into trouble in 1991, also left earlier this year.

(Photograph omitted)

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