Update: AssetCo stay of execution until July 25

Update : AssetCo hearing  time and place fixed on court schedule

Monday, 25 July 2011
At half past 10

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

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.

Update: Now AssetCo’s financial saviour quits


AssetCo's state of finances: Pic Courtesy:www.onenewspage.co.uk

 Scott Brown, the Australian financial whizz kid brought in to shake up the collapsing private fire company, quit AssetCo yesterday, it has just been announced.

His departure is the latest blow to the firm which owns and services London and Lincolnshire’s fire engines and provided a strike breaking auxiliary workforce in the dispute with the London Fire Brigade over shift patterns last year.

It came as shares fell to just 3.93p – a new low – which must mean the company is not long for this world.

Appointed only last October the 43-year-old was meant to help turn the company round and plan an expansion of its activities.

The official statement from AssetCo described his departure as part of ” the orderly transition in its finance area  ”  claiming “Mr Brown’s immediate duties and the finance structure is being managed day-to-day by a senior interim manager, who is reporting directly to Interim Chairman, Tudor Davies. ”

 Frankly this is balls. An orderly transition would mean that the company would already have someone  appointed in  his place – not some interim manager who probably has been appointed at the last moment.

 I talked to him  briefly on his mobile when the company was having to raise extra finance – and it was quite clear from the conversation that he saw the company having a big future – once it had got rid of hotchpotch of manufacturing firms  it acquired in the 1980s and could expand by offering its services to other fire authorities and abroad.

More to the point he is  shrewd enough to quit before it goes bust. A check on the land register shows he has a large house in Barnes, south London which he and his partner Elizabeth Hackett-Brown bought for £1.425m in 2009 with a mortgage from HSBC. He won’t want as a director  to  put that at risk if the company goes bust.

 He also is the key man negotiating with the banks – so I just wonder how well the negotiations for extra cash are going.

I have a feeling that it won’t be long before  London Fire Brigade’s shiny engines will be in the hands of the administrators.

Revealed: The £400,000 debts of Barnet’s blogger banning private security firm

MetPro's fine lads: Owed £20,000 in unpaid wages

Documents filed by Mike Solomon, the liquidator of MetPro Rapid Response, the private security company accused of covertly filming and monitoring the borough’s bloggers, reveal that it went belly up owing over £400,000 ten days ago.

The biggest creditor is Revenue and Customs who are owed a cool £245,611.57, for unpaid tax, national insurance contributions, corporation tax and VAT.

 The company which took over £275,000 from the council taxpayers of the Tory borough to provide security and was used by the  council leader, Lynne Hillan,  to enforce a ban on bloggers filming or reporting the council’s big cuts meeting, could have been involved in tax avoidance.

The break down of the figures show that over £139,000 owed  is in PAYE and national insurance contributions and another £99,000 is VAT.

Employees are also owed over £21,000 in unpaid wages – and are top of the list to receive £8800 in payments if any money can be raised.

 The two directors of the company Kevin Sharkey and Luigi Mansi have put themselves down as creditors – saying they are owed £92,500 for loans they gave to the company. Other unpaid debts include £3400 to  their accountants, Bond Partners, the address where the company was last registered and a £4972 credit card debt to Barclaycard.

Total debts are over £400,000 while assets are just three motorcycles valued at £11,850; computer and office equipment worth £475 and security uniforms worth £1400. As a job lot Mr Solomon estimates he could sell them for £6000 plus a goodwill sum of £13,500 for anybody wanting the business.

The scale of the scandal raises questions about the due diligence employed by Barnet Council in appointing them in the first place, particularly as records show that voluntary liquidation involving the same directors has happened before. There could be a case for an investigation if a complaint was made to the district auditor about how the council tendering procedures handled their original appointment.

Since Barnet have been unable to answer a lot of questions from the public about this whole unhappy saga – may be they will feel they have to co-operate with auditors. Or may be not.