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Cambria Automobiles to ditch PLC status with October 13 end to shares trading

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Cambria Automobiles will officially relinquish its PLC status as of October 13 after chief executive Mark Lavery successfully completed his takeover bid this week.

The AM100 car retail group confirmed, in a statement issued via the London Stock Exchange this morning (September 29), that acceptances for Lavery’s £82.5 million takeover offer had closed at 1pm yesterday.

At the offer’s close, Lavery’s Bidco business entity held a total of 98,173,362 Cambria shares, representing approximately 98.17% of the group’s entire issued share capital, including 40% held by himself and his wife, Nicola Lavery.

Bidco will now acquire compulsorily the remaining Cambria shares in respect of which the Offer has not been accepted.

Confirming the resulting timeline for the business’ return to private ownership, this morning’s statement confirmed: “Bidco announced on 15 September 2021 that it intended to procure that Cambria make applications to cancel admission to trading of Cambria Shares on the London Stock Exchange's AIM market.

“Cambria has made such application and the cancellation of admission to trading of Cambria Shares on the London Stock Exchange's AIM market will occur at 7am on 13 October 2021.”

October 14’s departure of Cambria from the London Stock Exchange should bring an end to a takeover bid that began in March this year and met strong objections from investors in the US.

In an interview with AM last month, Lavery said funding Bidco’s takeover offer for Cambria had “not been easy”, explaining that the cash had been generated from a combination of bank debt and £2.5m of personal funds.

He said “I am taking all the risk now”, adding: “My priority here is the business, its colleagues, our manufacturer partners and the shareholders.

“We’re entering a challenging period for the sector and going private will allow us to focus on what lies ahead with any distractions.”

In its last set of full-year financial results, published in November last year, Cambria reported that its revenues dropped 20% during a COVID-impacted period which was “the most challenging period in its history”.

Annual sales to August 31, 2020, declined to £524m (208/19: £677.8m) while underlying profit before tax dropped 9.8% to £11.1m.

Yet Cambria’s return on sales improved year-on-year from 1.87% to 2.11%, as the car dealer’s continuing expansion into high luxury vehicle franchises such as Bentley and Lamborghini continued to bear fruit.

A month ago the group delivered a "cautious" trading update in which it highlighted a 3.9% decline in new vehicle retail sales, a 3% dip in used sales and 3% in fleet and commercial sales during the 11 months to July 31.

Today AM reported that the group has agreed a franchise contract to be an official sales and aftersales provider for INEOS, selling its Grenadier 4x4 as part of the OEM's planned 23-site UK network.

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