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Carter & Carter suspends shares trading

Carter & Carter has suspended trading of its shares pending clarification of its financial position.

The training company has warned investors that its financial results for the year to July 31, 2007, due to be announced this month, are likely to be “materially lower than previously expected”. It is the third profits warning in five months.

It added: “At the current time Carter & Carter cannot accurately assess its financial position and is therefore unable to provide the market with an informed update of its position.

“In light of this uncertainty the company has requested a temporary suspension. The company is currently in discussion with its banks regarding its financial position and is renegotiating its bank facilities to reflect its revised level of profitability.”

Carter and Carter’s share price has fallen from a high of almost £13 in April to a low of 52p, recovering slightly to 82.2p just before trading was suspended.

Speculation is now rife of two prospective bidders, one of which is believed to be a Republic of Ireland-based training provider.

The latest problems do not appear to have been caused by the automotive business, which is believed to be performing in line with expectations.

Carter & Carter is also more upbeat about the future for Train the Gain, one of the main causes of its last profit warning. It has been caught out by Train to Gain rules which state that only people with fewer than five GCSEs and who have been a UK resident for more than three years are entitled to the training.

That excludes most dealership staff, according to automotive managing director David Carter. “We have the money, we just haven’t been able to spend it,” he told AM.

Carter believes the government will now take a more employer-led approach on how the funds are used to train staff.

“There are still PDI staff, valetors, cleaners and delivery drivers who meet the requirements,” he said.

“They get forgotten about but they are a vital part and would benefit from customer service training.

“If the government gets employers to determine training requirements for their staff, then we will have a programme.”

Carter & Carter has been without a permanent chief executive since the death of Phil Carter in May in a helicopter crash, which also killed his son.

The company is close to filling the role.

Chief operating officer Nigel Kirkham, who was appointed in December 2006, left the company during the summer.

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