Albemarle & Bond drops hunt for buyer


The saga at pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond continues unabated as the company said it is no longer up for sale because bosses could not find any buyers for the struggling business.

Bosses admitted that shares in the company were almost worthless, sending the price plummeting 52 per cent as investors piled out and nursed their losses.

In a statement to the stock market, the company said: “Despite a number of proposals being received from interested parties through the course of the formal sale process… none of the proposals were deemed to represent a fair value for the company.

"Whilst alternative options continue to be explored, the board of Albemarle now believes that, depending on the final outcome, there may be limited value attributable to the ordinary shares."

Chief executive Chris Gillespie said the company’s lenders would extend its covenant deadline until the end of March to give him more time to solve the firm’s problems following a 30 per cent fall in gold prices in the last year.

A rights issue in October to raise £35 million from its biggest lender — rival pawnbroker EZ Corp — failed, and Better Capital pulled out of talks of a takeover last month.

Albemarle resorted to shutting its pop-up stores, ended new lending through its loan business and started melting and selling its surplus gold supplies to avoid breaching banking covenants.

EZ appeared keen to take over the company, with its board representatives all resigning recently, although the company may wait for any possible administration.

Rival UK pawnbroker H&T is also thought to be interested in buying some of Albemarle’s assets, although not the business outright.

Gillespie said: "I remain of the  view, supported by the feedback from the sale process to date,  that there is a viable underlying business if supported by the right capital structure."