Rushmere turns to business training

Rushmere Wynne, the loss-making former publisher, yesterday agreed to buy the residential training division of Coutts Consulting for pounds 6.5m in cash in a deal which completes its conversion into a provider of business training services.

The division consists of two operating companies, Eynsham Hall near Witney in Oxfordshire, and Chewton Place, near Keynsham, not far from Bristol. The two centres are hired out to UK companies for staff training activities and made an operating profit of pounds 1.06m on a turnover of pounds 3.7m in 1996.

The deal is being financed by a pounds 4m loan, a bank overdraft facility of pounds 500,000 and an open offer of 230 million shares at 1p each. Shareholders will be offered three new shares for each two shares held.

It is the third big reorganisation this year for the struggling group which was launched on AIM two years ago when 27 per cent of the company was floated, raising pounds 750,000. The cash was used to take over another small publisher, Rosters, and a jobbing printer, HS Printers.

The shares were suspended at 2p last November when the company warned it would make a loss of pounds 100,000 in the 10 months to the end of September 1995 instead of the profit it forecast when it floated. It later reported losses of pounds 329,000 for the period, and a further loss of pounds 293,000 for the six months to the end of March this year.

In March Rushmere Wynne bought Fairplace Training, which operates training facilities at Birchin Court in London, from Fairplace Consulting for cash and 50 million shares, and Fairplace Training's chief executive, Colyn Gardner, became executive chairman of Rushmere Wynne.

Last month the original loss-making publishing interests were sold to BT Batsford for pounds 225,000 in cash and shares. The business will be renamed Birchin International. The group yesterday reported an unaudited loss of pounds 370,000 for the nine months to the end of March.