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Lookers lenders brace for impact of refinancing talks

Written by on 15/10/2020

Lenders to Lookers, the stricken car dealership network, are to appoint financial advisers in the coming days amid an ongoing delay to its full-year and subsequent half-year results.

Sky News has learnt that a syndicate of banks, understood to include Lloyds Banking Group, Britain’s biggest high street lender, will parachute in advisers to aid them in talks about refinancing Lookers’ £250m revolving credit facility.

City sources said the company, which has cut a huge swathe of jobs since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, was also likely to publish an unscheduled trading update on Friday morning.

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Shares in Lookers have been suspended since August following a protracted failure to have its full-year results signed off by its auditor, Deloitte.

The company, which is now proposing to appoint a replacement auditor, has been working with the accountancy firm Grant Thornton to identify the full extent of what it described as “potentially fraudulent transactions”.

Its 2019 results were supposed to be announced in March, while its figures for the first half of 2020 should have been published by now.

It is unclear when they will be finalised.

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Lookers’ lenders are said to be considering their options, with a more comprehensive restructuring of the company’s balance sheet a possibility.

The company is preparing to overhaul most of its board, with the former National Express boss Phil White temporarily taking over as executive chairman.

A new non-executive chairman and audit committee chair are in the process of being recruited.

Sky News revealed earlier this year that Lookers had snubbed a tentative merger approach from rival Pendragon because of the all-consuming nature of its existing talks with lenders, regulators and auditors.

Lookers declined to comment.

 Sky News

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