Pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond appoints joint administrators

LONDON Tue Mar 25, 2014 2:16pm EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - British pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond ALBH.L is to appoint administrators after its lenders said proposed rescue plans for the loss-making business are not viable, the company said on Tuesday.

Albemarle & Bond has more than 230 stores employing 1,000 people in total, its website says, providing short-term loans to individuals and small businesses against items such as watches and jewelry. It also buys gold.

The group was founded in 1983 and launched an ambitious expansion plan in 2011 on the back of steep rises in the price of gold and tightened bank lending that sent more customers through its doors.

But its fortunes waned as the price of gold tumbled over the past 12 months and the company was unable to find a buyer after it put itself up for sale in December.

Albemarle & Bond said on Monday that its shareholders would see no return on their investment and that without the support of its banks it would soon be unable to meets it liabilities.

Shares in the company, which lost 97 percent of their value in the past 12 months, were suspended on Monday.

"In such circumstances, the appointment of an administrator is the most appropriate course of action," the company said.

It said it would file notice of intention to appoint four insolvency practitioners from PricewaterhouseCoopers as joint administrators as soon as practically possible.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Kate Holton and David Goodman)

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