McLaughlin in talks with its bankers

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The Independent Online
SHARES in McLaughlin & Harvey, the troubled Co Antrim construction company, were suspended at 28p yesterday 'pending clarification of the company's financial position', writes Tom Stevenson.

The company, which has not made a profit since 1989, said that market conditions remained depressed and trading was bleak. The board was in discussions yesterday with its bankers.

It added: 'Construction margins continue to be squeezed and the balance sheet remains weak. The scope for further asset sales in the short term is limited.' Borrowings at the year-end were pounds 6.7m.

McLaughlin fended off a bid three years ago from a consortium of Northern Irish investors, calling a 135p-a-share offer 'opportunistic, derisory and unacceptable'.

At the time it claimed net assets of 323p a share. The shares had traded at 300p at the beginning of 1989.

TBF Thompson, the bidder, responded: 'M&H do not appear to have any idea of where the worsening climate is leading them.'

Since shareholders rejected the bid the company has made progressively larger losses of pounds 730,000 in 1990, pounds 5.4m the following year and pounds 6.8m in 1992.