Corporate rescue specialists were last night poised to clinch a deal to rescue Birmingham's oldest company.

They expect to announce today that they have sold military buttons and badges manufacturer Firmin & Sons.

Administrators from accountants Moore Stephens were called in by the Newtown Row company after it hit a cash shortage.

The company, founded in London in 1677 and one of the world's most famous makers of military insignia and decorations, ran short of cash when a prestigious Ministry of Defence contract took longer than expected to finalise.

Attempts to find a trading partner were scuppered by the #2 million hole Firmin's closed final salary pension fund that any investor would be expected to help plug.

An un-named, privatelyowned, London company was last night believed to be in talks with joint administrators Nigel Price and Mark Bowen of Moore Stephens.

It is thought that the company's pension fund may have to be wound up, said Mr Price.