PAWNBROKER H&T is said to be considering snapping up struggling rival Albemarle & Bond to create a chain with nearly 400 high street stores.
H&T is understood to be one of a number of trade and financial buyers that have formally lodged interest in buying Albemarle, which put itself up for sale last week as it battles to keep within lending limits after plunging gold prices and competition has left it nursing losses.
Albemarle, which includes Herbert Brown jewellery and pawnbroking stores, recently admitted it had resorted to melting down gold jewellery stocks to raise cash.
A takeover by H&T would bring together Britain’s two largest pawnbrokers.
But H&T faces competition from other potential bidders, including Albemarle’s biggest shareholder EZ Corp, the US pawnbroking giant, as well as New York vulture fund Apollo Global Management, according to The Sunday Times.
Albemarle has hired Canaccord Genuity to advise on the sale process and has been granted dispensation from the UK Takeover Panel.