Insolvency and Administration

AssetCo Case and Grant Thornton Defense

I mentioned in a previous blog post yesterday the judgement in the case of the alleged breach of duty by Grant Thornton (GT) when acting as auditors of AssetCo Plc (ASTO) in 2009/10. See https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Comm/2019/150.html for the full judgement. For those who have not had the opportunity to read all 300 pages of the judgement, here are some interesting points from it: It was conceded that the audit was negligent in a number of respects, but GT’s defense against the damages claim ...

Flybe, InterServe, Jackals, Vultures and BEIS progress on Insolvency Laws

Flybe is another example of the problems of the insolvency system not working very well. @LucyGJWhite explains it well in today's Daily Mail https://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/markets/article-6671393/Investor-anger-cut-price-Flybe-takeover.html which quotes me. It is shocking that the directors rejected a merger deal at 40p and now are recommending a 1p deal - they should be ashamed. The UK Shareholders Association/ShareSoc wrote a very good response to the BEIS Consultation on Insolvency and Corporate Governance https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/insolvency-and-corporate-governance. Click here for our response https://www.sharesoc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/BEIS-Consultation-on-Insolvency-and-corporate-Governance-joint-UKSA-ShareSoc-response1.pdf. We made the very important point: In the US, Chapter 11 ...

AssetCo, Patisserie, Stockpiling, Warehouses, Sheds, Brexit and Venezuela

A week ago, an award of damages of £21 million plus interest and costs was made against Grant Thornton for their breach of duty when acting as auditors of AssetCo Plc (ASTO) in 2009/10. See https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Comm/2019/150.html for the full judgement. I understand Grant Thornton may appeal. These are the key sentences in the judgement: It is common ground that in those years the senior management team at AssetCo behaved in a way that was fundamentally dishonest. During the audit process management made ...

Patisserie – and How to Avoid Such Disasters

The events at Patisserie (CAKE) have been well covered in both the national media and financial press so I won’t repeat them here. This article will, therefore, concentrate on...

The Signs Were There – Corporate Disasters and How to Avoid Them

This is a review of the recently published book entitled “The Signs Were There” by Tim Steer. It’s worth reading by any investor who invests directly in stock market shares, but particularly by those new to the game. Experienced investors will know about many of the causes of companies collapsing, and how accounts can deceive, from their own past experiences. But it’s best to learn what to look for in other ways. The book covers many UK examples of corporate disasters - ...

Johnston Press and TrakM8

Over the weekend, Johnston Press (JPR) was put into administration and immediately sold to a new group of companies controlled by the company’s bondholders. In other words this looks like a typical “pre-pack” administration where a company does not go through a proper administration process with an open sales process but is flogged off to in a fire sale to those who already know the business and see an opportunity to collect a bargain. Trade creditors will lose their money, shareholders will ...

Lehman Collapse, Labour’s Employment Plans, Audit Reform Ideas and Oxford Biomedica

There was a highly amusing article in the FT recently by their journalist John Gapper explaining how he caused the financial crisis in 2008 by encouraging Hank Paulson, US Treasury Secretary, to resist the temptation to rescue Lehman Brothers. So now we know the culprit. Even more amusing was the report on the previous day that the administrators (PWC) of the UK subsidiary of Lehman expect to be left with a surplus of £5 billion. All the creditors are being paid ...

Insolvency Regime Changes – A Step Forward

There’s nothing like issuing a major Government announcement on the Sunday of an August bank holiday weekend to get good media coverage is there? But as it’s raining and I have nothing much else to do, I have read the announcement and here is a summary: The announcement is entitled “Insolvency and Corporate Governance – Government Response” (see https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/insolvency-and-corporate-governance ). It is the Government’s response to past public consultations on how to tackle some of the perceived problems when companies get into ...

Mulberry Profit Warning – Better Late Than Never

On Saturday (18/8/2018) I wrote about the damage to suppliers from the pre-pack administration at House of Fraser. One of the companies mentioned was Mulberry Group Plc (MUL) and I queried why they had not issued an RNS announcement indicating the likely impact on their profits. I suggested it could be £2.4 million. This morning Mulberry issued a profit warning that spelled out the likely figure. There will be a provision of £3 million of “exceptional costs” related to the 21 “concessions” ...

House of Fraser – The Real Damage from the Pre-Pack and to Mulberry

I have covered the abuse of pre-pack administrations and the case of House of Fraser in two previous blog articles. But now that the initial administrators report has been published the real damage is very clear. House of Fraser had total debts of £884 million of which trade suppliers were owed £484 million. The latter means goods supplied to the company, and sitting in the stores being sold to customers which will not be paid for by either the administrator or the ...