Loan waiver cuts losses at Shield

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SHIELD GROUP, the estate agent specialising in repossessed property, said it hoped to trade profitably over the next year, though it would be unable to pay dividends 'for some time'.

Shield reported a pre-tax loss for the year to 31 March of pounds 1.4m - a result which benefits from the waiver of a pounds 787,000 bank loan relating to an unprofitable joint venture property development. Norman Mazure, chairman, said the amount waived represented the bank's share of the loss.

The pounds 1.4m loss is an improvement on last year's loss, which had to be restated at pounds 7.3m after the Financial Reporting Review Panel criticised Shield for contravening accounting standards.

Earlier property provisions have left the company with a net deficit on shareholders' funds of about pounds 8m. However, Mr Mazure said cash balances of pounds 2.25m were about three times the size of debts.

Shield's turnover rose from pounds 7.1m to pounds 10.6m, though cost of sales remained higher at pounds 11.3m. Mr Mazure said Stickley & Kent, the group's principal trading subsidiary, had made itself a market leader in handling insolvent property for banks and building societies.

Shield has agreed a sale of its remaining luxury flat in Hampstead, north London, for pounds 1.5m. Because of earlier write-downs, this will have a neutral impact on profits.

Shares in Shield, which before the October 1987 crash traded at more than 350p, were unchanged yesterday at 21 2 p.