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Looking for trustworthy insolvency advice?

If your business is in difficulty then you are stressed and worried.  How do you ensure that you are getting good unbiased quality advice on how to get yourself out of your difficulties?

Please see our page that lists the various dubious tactics and claims made by some (thankfully small in number) unscrupulous traders in our industry, especially online.

If anyone has come across other bad practices then please send us a comment and we will add it to our list. 

Saab GB in administration

Saab GB, the UK arm of the Swedish car manufacturer, has appointed administrators.

With immediate effect, David Dunckley and Daniel Taylor of Grant Thornton UK LLP have been appointed joint administrators of Saab GB according to a press release.

Saab GB, employs 55 people in Milton Keynes and distributes the cars and parts to a 58 dealers across the UK of which 20 are "Saab only" sites. Saab City, a wholly owned subsidiary of Saab GB employing 65 people, operates two Saab motor dealerships, one in Wapping and a smaller site in Fulham
A buyer is being sought for the company.

A Saab GB customer hotline has been set up on 0845 300 9593 or visit www.saab.co.uk for more details.

George Osborne's Autumn Statement

This was going to be a tough one and with all the gloom and doom around George is going to need to give the economy some stimulus for growth.

The main headline is that public sector pay rises will be capped at 1%  for another 2 years after the current freeze ends.  This is going to enflame the already angry public sector workers further who are going on strike tomorrow over pensions.  I guess the unions chose the date of the 30th as they knew that the Autumn statement was not going to be popular.

Other main/important points so far are
  • The right to buy is coming back with the ability for occupier of social housing to buy their houses at a 50% discount.
  • Business finance partnership will have £1bn to help mid sized firms  ( we await the details )
  • Credit easing of £40bn with the aim to bring down interest rates by 1% for small firms.
  • Infrastructure spending to increase including a new rail link between Oxford, Bedford and Milton Keynes
  • Benefits will increase by 5.2% as per the September inflation rates.
  • Tax credits to be cut
  • Fuel and train fares increases less than originally planned
  • More tax breaks for investing in businesses.

Not much direct help for small businesses so far except the business rates holiday for small firms which is being extended to April 2013.  Small firms need lower business rates period!  The credit easing is good in principle but not sure how well it will work in practice

DebtDr owes clients £600,000

According to an investigation by the BBC the Somerset-based DebtDr has taken £600,000 of clients monies that was supposed to be protected and was to be offered to the clients' creditors as full and final settlement for a small fee. In many cases, clients borrowed the money to give to DebtDr to use in its negotiations with creditors.

Liquidators are investigating the company, which ceased trading in April.

Mr Hockley, who was previously made bankrupt ran DebtDr as the trading name of Hermes Financial Solutions Ltd.

The company closed down and Mr Hockley disappeared.  However, it appears the BBC's "Inside Out" programme ( to be shown tonight  7.30pm BBC1 ) have tracked him down to a nightclub which he is helping to run. 

Hermes Financial Solutions was wound up in July of this year and a liquidator appointed.

The liquidator, Jon Law, told the BBC: "This investigation has now substantially completed and it is clear that around £600,000 of client money belonging to more than 80 clients of the company has been used improperly and is no longer held by the company."

Can I strike off a company if it is insolvent?

In short, no you cannot.  It is one of the conditions that a company can only be "struck off" the companies house register if it is not insolvent.  Or more precisely it is not subject to a formal insolvency procedure and any creditors can object to the striking off.   So, for all intents and purposes it is not advisable to try and strike off a company that has substantial sized debts.

Please read our new page on striking off a limited company

Cosalt plc in debt talks

Shares in Cosalt fell 36% yesterday when the company announced that it did not have enough working capital to last the month.  The company said it had just £900,000 of banking facilities.  The company supplies safety equipment and protective workwear to offshore drillers in the North Sea.

Cosalt said that it was looking to appoint restructuring advisors to try and sell off assets or refinance its debts.  The debts of the company amount to £12.3m.  The chairman and biggest shareholder, David Ross, is in talks to buy the company and has offered £405,000 to take it into private ownership.  The value of the net assets would need to be independently valued to avoid accusations of there being a transaction at an undervalue and the business will need to be marketed according to SIP16 rules.

One option for the company might be to do a pre pack administration with the company being able to write off some of its debts.

This is the second publicly listed company that has asked for more money this week.  Of course the big one was Thomas Cook who have asked for a further £100m from their bankers to avoid them breaching their banking covenants.

HMRC to demand PAYE deposits in 2012

From April 2012 HMRC will have the power to demand deposits from new companies for PAYE and class 1 NIC contributions.

It is expected that they will ask for PAYE deposits for the same reasons as they currently do for VAT deposits

Directors of the new company have failed to comply with tax legislation in the past and have a record of building up arrears are some of the reasons given.

Read our new page on PAYE security deposits

CBI Conference Today - Prime Minister announces £400m for housebuilding

With the backdrop of falling stockmarkets, low growth, budget deficits and restless populations in the Eurozone, US and the Middle East, the CBI conference has much to talk about!

Basically, the government needs to be seen to be promoting growth and David Cameron has just unveiled a £400m fund to "unblock" housing projects that are "shovel ready" but have been unable to go ahead because of a lack of funding.  The plan is  they can provide jobs, growth, and affordable housing. So an ambitious plan then.  £400m though, is pretty small in the grand scheme of things.  Many builders have gone into administration as they have been unable to complete projects or margins have been squeezed.  However, such a scheme does run the risk of throwing good money after bad.  Many would prefer to see old stock renovated or house prices just coming down in value to make them affordable. 

The government has also pledged to underwrite the risk of owning a home by offering to underwrite potential losses on a proportion of mortgages.  The government's record on these sort of schemes has been patchy as takeup has been slow or processing them has been buried under red tape but we will see how this works.

Blogged by Robert Moore of KSA Group

SeaFrance in Liquidation

SeaFrance has been unable to stay afloat.  A court in Paris rejected two bids to save the firm that employs more than a thousand people.  As such the business has been put into liquidation as of today.

The court said the company's Calais to Dover services would continue until January 28 next year and that new bids to take it over would be accepted until December 12, but that the existing offers were unacceptable.

One offer, the court said, would result in too many job losses which it felt would trigger further industrial action that would damage the struggling firm.  The other was put forward by the union but the court felt that there was no capital to finance such a project. It also said that the offer for the ferries was too low.

The 2008 financial crisis also hit the firm hard, and last year it shed 700 jobs and was put into receivership. It currently employs 880 permanent staff, and 200 on short-term seasonal contracts.

Of course the case of SeaFrance will be under European Law so we cannot comment on the details.


Retail sales in unexpected rise

Retail sales are one of the two statistics that seem to go against expected outcomes,  the other being house prices.  The mood of everyone seems to be darkening due, no doubt, to the following; 

Eurozone crisis
Record youth unemployment past the psychologically important 1m
Rise in companies going into administration (third quarter only however)
Consumer confidence falling
Low growth

BUT retail sales have shown a surprise rise!  In fact, sales volumes in small stores rose 5.3% year-on-year - the biggest increase since November 2004 and there was a 0.4% rise overall.  Of course, inflation should be taken into consideration but the rise has been attributed to price cuts and early Christmas promotions.  It just goes to show that the UK shopper loves a bargain. 

Many retailers are reporting that sales are flat and they are struggling but many of these are publically listed so have to give trading updates. 
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