Jessops shareholders 'out of pocket'

29 September 2009

Shareholders in camera retailer Jessops have been left out of pocket following a restructuring to save the business.
Investors are likely to be left with just £100,000 of their money after the group went into solvent liquidation. However, without the move, Jessops said it would have "no choice" but to start formal insolvency proceedings - meaning shareholders would not have received a penny.
From 29 September, the photography retailer's biggest creditor, HSBC, will own 47% of the group in return for writing off £34 million of debt. A further 33% will fall under the control of the Jessops pension fund and 20% will go to the employee trust.
Jessops, which has been hard hit by the move to digital photography, says it had unsuccessfully attempted to refinance its current borrowing facilities and had also considered the possibility of equity fund raisings. However, it has since dismissed these as unviable.
The move to liquidate the company in its current form will safeguard 2,000 jobs.
HSBC has given the 'new' company - called Snap Equity - a £54 million loan to pay the debts of the old company. After the bank has written off £34 million, this will leave the group with around £20 million of debt.

Such a deal would normally require the approval of shareholders but the company's dire financial position has enabled it to get a waiver.
In its last trading update Jessops, which has more than 200 stores across the UK, said like-for-like sales were down 4.7% for the 12 weeks to 16 August.

Founded in 1935, the store passed out of the control of the Jessops family in July 1996. It floated on the London Stock Exchange in November 2004.

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