Bookie sells stakes to re-take control - Tuesday 1st of July 2008

BOOKMAKER Neville Porter has sold its remaining oncourse betting pitches in its battle out of administration.

The County Durham company announced it had sold its two lucrative Irish stakes - which were at one time described as the key to the firms success - to rival bookmaker Michael Keegan for £170,000.

In March, Neville Porter sold its UK pitches to its namesake managing director for £300,000 through a refinancing plan, and the pitches are now being leased back to the company.

advertisementBoth moves were taken as a bid to bail out the Chester-le- Street firm amidst tough trading conditions, and culminated in Neville Porter being forced to call in administrators last month as it battled to stay in business.

The company has revealed that, as a result of the sale of its Leopardstown and Galway pitches, it has been able to retake control of the business from administrators.

In a statement, the company - which has suspended its listing on the Alternative Investment Market - said the assets had a net book value of £400,000, which would help give it much-needed capital and would also repay loans made to the company by director Brian Morton, who pumped in £130,000 secured against the Irish stakes to revive its fortunes. However, after selling the pitches, which made a profit of £64,688 from a turnover of just over £1m last year, Neville Porter is left with no trading assets.

The company said it would be calling an extraordinary general meeting in the near future to discuss its investments.

Anthony Platts, divisional director of investment manager Brewin Dolphin, on Teesside, said: "A business must have assets to be able to trade, but in this case, there is only cash. It will need to do something with that cash, ie acquire some trading assets, to be able to trade again."

Neville Porter revealed the extent of its plight earlier this year when it was forced to abandon predictions for significant growth when it announced a half-year loss of £268,756 on the back of a £912,754 annual operating loss last year.

The bombshells came only months after the company said it was on course to blow its £14m annual turnover and growth targets "out of the window".

Mr Porter has always insisted the business would bounce back, and said he and the company would take necessary steps to revive its fortunes, and would move into the future with "renewed determination".

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