Photobition rebels to fight MBO plan

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The Independent Online

Photobition came under pressure from a group of angry shareholders yesterday, led by one of the display graphics supplier's original founders. The rebel investors are keen to force dramatic change at the business that has issued a string of profit warnings.

Bob Bushby, who controls about 2 per cent of Photobition, set up the Photobition Forum action group to bring disgruntled investors together via the internet to fight a potential management buyout of the company that is struggling under a £100m debt mountain.

"Photobition has traditionally commanded a huge amount of loyalty and goodwill, from its backers, its staff and its clients," Mr Bushby said. "Recent events, including the effective collapse of the share price, have tested everyone's patience to the limit ­ especially given the rumoured buyout intentions of some of the incumbent management."

Eddie Marchbanks, the chief executive, and Photobition's finance director, Steven Smith, are trying to raise funds to take the company private. There are severe doubts, however, that venture capital groups would be willing to fund a deal that would involve taking on Photobition's debts while paying investors a substantial premium.

Shares in Photobition fell 1.5p to 25p, valuing the business at £24.1m. The company's fall from grace has sent shares tumbling from a high of 556p in the middle of last year.

The rebels, believed to include at least one institutional investor, want Photobition to call an emergency meeting. In a profit warning 10 days ago, the company said it expected a pre-tax loss for the year to June.

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