LONDON Oct 30 Pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond
said its lenders have agreed to push back a test of its
banking covenants by three months as its new Chief Executive
seeks to turn around the struggling business.
Britain's second-largest pawnbroker, whose net debt stands
at 49.9 million pounds - just below the limit of its 53.5
million pound banking facilities - on Wednesday said it lending
banks had pushed back the covenant test date to Feb. 3, 2014,
from Oct. 30, 2013.
The company said previously efforts to agree a cash
injection from its biggest shareholder had failed earlier this
month and that it was in talks with its banks on options to
remedy any potential covenant breaches.
It said last month it had approached EZCORP International
for an equity raise of 35 million pounds ($56 million)
after being hit by the tumbling price of gold.
Albemarle & Bond, which two years ago launched an ambitious
expansion plan as it heralded "the age of the pawnbroker", had
profited from the steep rise in gold prices and tightened bank
lending, which drove more cash-strapped customers to its
Gold prices have however fallen more than 20 percent this
year on expectations that an improved global economic outlook
would lead the U.S. Federal Reserve to curb quantitative easing,
which has created significant uncertainty over the company's
current prospects, it said.
The company, whose new CEO Chris Gillespie started earlier
this month, said its markets continued to be challenging but
that its new management was making "good initial progress" in
Rival pawnbroker H&T Group is faring better and
last month reported a 27 percent rise in like-for-like sales