01 October 1998

MARKETING SERVICES mini-conglomerate Aspen Group warned it will make an operating loss for the six months to 31 December, and effectively put itself on the market in a quest for a white knight. The announcement caused shares to fall by 9p to 40p, compared with their peak of 295p in 1996. A company spokesman said that its trading situation had become increasingly adverse since announcing an interim £15.2m loss on 16 September, adding: 'The board has concluded that it does not have sufficient resources to make the required level of investment across the group, and to support its development activities. In particular, investment is required to develop Aspen's retail media and agency businesses.' Earlier this year two separate suitors - Photobition and US investment house Quaestus - ran the tape measure over Aspen then promptly withdrew. Nevertheless, Aspen claims to be in 'preliminary discussions with a number of interested parties to explore the possibility of an offer for the entire issued share capital'. At today's share price, Aspen is worth around £6 million.