Update: Near bust AssetCo to try and stave off insolvency again

AssetCo, the troubled owner of London and Lincolnshire’s fire engines and military contracts in the Middle East, will make a desperate attempt to stave off bankruptcy at a hearing at the High Court tomorrow (thursday).

The near bust firm will be up before Mr Justice Peter Smith in Court 61 in the Chancery Division of the High Court in the Strand pressing for yet another adjournment as it fails to clinch a take over deal with Arcapita, the Bahrain based company. The court hearing begins at 10.30 am ,though AssetCo is at the bottom of the list, and the case may not be heard until later in the day.

In another desperate move the firm will produce at the court draft  documents to be presented to its many creditors in the hope they may stave off the evil day when it will have to cease trading. Details of the documents have not been published but a majority of creditors will have to agree before the company can be saved. The last time the company appeared before the court it said it could go bust owing £140m to banks,electricity companies and suppliers.

Will the judge still be sympathetic to this ill-fated example of privatisation? We will have to wait events.

AssetCo buys a month’s grace as investors asked again to bail it out

AssetCo, the troubled company which owns London and Lincolnshire’s  fire engines, and is £140m in debt, has managed to negotiate a further lifeline from its investors.

 The company which faced being wound up today (July 25) at a High Court hearing in London has gained another month’s grace until August 25 to conclude the deal.

A statement from the company said:””the Board of AssetCo has been in discussions with certain of its major stakeholders (being North Atlantic Value LLP, a part of the J O Hambro Capital Management Group, Utilico Investments Limited and Henderson, which incorporates the interests of Gartmore Investments Limited), ” for further refinancing of aanother £10m.

The price to be paid will be another dilution of the shares – worth just 1p before the deal and 2.50p – after the deal became public, and banks and other creditors will not get all their money back either.

The statement continued:”The strategy will focus  on developing the Middle-East business into a leading emergency services platform and on running the London and Lincoln contracts.  The refinancing proposal to be approved by shareholders will involve the ring-fencing of the LFEPA (london fire brigade)for the benefit of the London subsidiary lender group, although shareholders will retain an interest in any residual value. The Investor Group intends that following this fundraising, the Company will continue to be listed on AIM.”

 The company also said that talks were an advanced stage with a bidder-assumed to Arcapita, the Bahrain based private bank (see previous post), but significantly Arcapita has not signed the deal.

  At Monday’s hearing  the court was told  professional fees for lawyers and financial advisers amd the directors are costing £100,000 a week.

 Mr Justice Floyd warned that if the new private-sector bid failed, it could leave AssetCo with “nothing left in the kitty “.

 “If it is not successful then the assets of the company would look to be depleted by the professional fees being charged to the point where there will be nothing left in the kitty to reimburse creditors of any description “ he said.

  Professional costs to cover just a fortnight’s work restructuring and refinancing the company in the run up to a new bid were detailed in court.  AssetCo directors Tudor Davies and Tim Barrett would charge £40,000 plus VAT, solicitors £112.824 plus VAT and financial advisors would be invoicing for £50,000 plus £5,000.  

  The scale of debt-laden AssetCo’s financial meltdown was disclosed in court – £2.2M at the end of June had shrunk to just £700,020

     Creditors supporting the company’s call for the wind-up order to be adjourned included North Atlantic Value, owed £15.9M by AssetCo. The company, part of the J O Hambro Capital Management Group, which is proposing to contribute to anothedr £10m refinancing deal.. 

   Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union said : “ These assets should be brought back into public ownership. At the court today, we heard lawyers haggling over remuneration fees ASSETCO – costs soar as “new bid” staves off wind up – but still no assurances for Londoners.  

 PrIvatising essential services in crazy, as the AssetCo debacle continues to show. Fire engines in London and Lincolnshire should be brought back into public ownership as soon as possible.”

Update: AssetCo stay of execution until July 25

Update : AssetCo hearing  time and place fixed on court schedule

COURT 62
Before MR JUSTICE SALES
Monday, 25 July 2011
At half past 10

APPLICATIONS
Omniway Properties Ltd v Fairlamb
Bowman v Mellor
Monty Farms SA v Agrexco Agricultural Export Company Ltd
Monty Farms SA v Agrexco Agricultural Export Company Ltd
Dr Oetker (UK) Ltd v Kenshawnapier Ltd
Rowan & Dartington & Co Ltd v Davis

COMPANIES COURT
Medipharm Ltd
In the matter of Assetco PLC
Medpharma Ltd & Nafisa ATI
Medicentres (UK) Limited

Assetco, the near bankrupt company in charge of London and Lincolnshire’s fire engines, was given until July 25 to try to stitch up a take over deal or go bust.

Mr Justice Peter Smith  at a hearing in the Chancery Division of the High Court in London rejected moves to wind it up owing £140m  to creditors or going into administration.

The company is thought to be negotiating a deal with a Bahrain bank, Arcapita, owned by Saudis, but there is only a slim chance of the deal succeeding.

Arcapita are said to be offering just 2p a share – valuing the company at £5.77m – but already the shares had dropped to 1p at the close of trading, though after hours sales boosted it to 1.30p. Both are all time lows for the company and a statement from the firm warned ” there can be no certainty of an offer for the Company being made. ”

The company is worth just £3.6m – virtually a pittance because of its huge debts.

A take over by Arcapita Bank will not be good news. Watch this space for new revelations about this firm and some disturbing stuff about AssetCo which has been sent to me by email.