Kroll appointed Joint Administrators to Artisan H1 Limited, The Ainscow Hotel Limited, Greyday LLP, and Artisan Group Facilities Management Limited

Jimmy Saunders and Andrew Knowles, both of Kroll Advisory Ltd., were appointed Joint Administrators of Artisan H1 Limited, The Ainscow Hotel Limited, Greyday LLP, and Artisan Group Facilities Management Limited (“The Companies”) on 2 and 3 September 2021.

The four Companies hold a number of assets throughout Manchester, including a former mill which has potential for redevelopment, several apartment buildings which were developed by the Companies several years ago and a trading hotel The Ainscow located in Salford, which employs 30 people.

Andrew Knowles, Joint Administrator, stated: “These appointments are subsequent to Kroll’s appointment to Artisan H (Kings Waterfront) Limited on 10 June 2021 which owns The Block on Liverpool Waterfront. This site comprises of two apartment buildings constructed in 2011. The Block was impacted by a major fire in December 2017, which destroyed a multi-storey car park adjoining The Block and the Liverpool Echo arena (as was). The subsequent remedial works to The Block and matters relating to the insurance claim and associated works have placed substantial pressure on the Group, and The Block is still not fit for occupation with significant remedial works remaining.

“The Group has also been impacted by the industry ramifications from the Grenfell Tower disaster, with several residential buildings owned by the Group incorporating cladding to the facades. This has reduced the ability of the Group to sell apartments, as is the case for third party leaseholders within the same buildings.”

The Joint Administrators are currently trading the hotel as a going concern, with no disruption to trade. Bookings are being honoured and bookings are expected to improve dramatically as the country continues to ease lockdown restrictions and the key Christmas trading period begins.

In respect to the residential developments the Joint Administrators are expected to progress with a divestment exercise by selling the respective assets. This will be a staged process with the initial focus on the buildings and apartments not impacted by cladding, and continued work with managing agents and professional consultants to resolve those buildings which are impacted. In respect of The Block, the Joint Administrators are working with relevant stakeholders in the hope that the remedial works can be completed.

Bristow & Sutor donate to The Money Charity

The Midlands-based enforcement specialist has pledged £15,000 to the charity, which will have a direct impact on around 500 people. Half of this donation is undirected funds and the other half is specifically allocated for delivering Financial Wellbeing training to local community groups and schools.

The Money Charity provide education, information, advice and guidance to people of all ages, helping them to manage their money well and increase their Financial Wellbeing. The charity has been in operation for over 25 years, providing guidance, workshops, webinars, resources and consultancy services. All of these help people engage with making good financial plans, achieving their monetary goals, creating financial buffers and building resilience against unexpected life events. The charity is mainly supported by organisations who share the same passion and aspirations as they do, looking to give back and re-invest generated revenues into making a difference.

Bristow & Sutor has over 42 years of experience in the collection of local council tax, non-domestic rates and unpaid Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs). The company is one of the UK’s leading players specialising in debt recovery and regularly encourages conversations between Debt Advice personnel and Local Authorities, utilising shared connections for the good of all involved. Enforcement is a vital component of the debt cycle and in many cases, it is at this stage that debtors are convinced to seek help with their current financial situation.

In addition to the recent monetary donation, Bristow Sutor is also aiming to help connect The Money Charity with others who may be interested in utilising services and contributing to the cause. This includes inviting them to share a stand at the upcoming IRRV Annual Conference in Telford on the 6th, 7th and 8th of October. As well as generating additional support streams, access to this highly relevant audience of local authority professionals will allow the charity to engage in important conversations and discussions with key personnel involved in the improvement of Financial Wellbeing within regional communities.

Michelle Highman, Chief Executive of The Money Charity, said, “Worrying about bills significantly affects a person’s ability to cope with everyday life, including performing their job. The support and guidance we offer commercially to businesses can have a huge impact on both employee happiness and productivity. This work, alongside generous donations, also helps us to offer free guidance to both young and vulnerable people. We are very thankful for the recent donation by Bristow and Sutor and the opportunity to partner with them at forthcoming events. We look forward to raising awareness and engaging in discussions about the continued importance of Financial Wellbeing.”

Emma Watson, Head of External Communication at Bristow & Sutor, said, “Bristow & Sutor is delighted to support The Money Charity as we remain committed to adding social value to client and customer communities. We see the need for better education, in order to prevent problem debt and have a long history of both supporting vulnerable people and worthy causes that aim to instil good financial practices. We are pleased to be able to offer this support to our own members of staff as well and we hope that communicating these positive benefits will encourage other businesses, customers and clients to do the same.”

Financial and communicative support of The Money Charity is just one of the causes Bristow & Sutor has committed to in recent times. Other charitable projects the business has donated to include the Trussell Trust, Stop Domestic Abuse and AdviceUK. Staff also took part in the Steps for StepChange initiative earlier this year, raising funds and awareness for the charity during the annual Debt Awareness Week (DAW).

Solicitors urged to respond to frozen asset list if needed

Solicitors have just over month to check the latest HM Treasury Consolidated List of asset freeze targets to make sure they are not holding monies belonging to a client that is subject to financial sanctions.

HM Treasury has given anyone who is holding frozen assets until 15 October to submit a report to the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI).

Sanctions are an important foreign policy and national security tool and solicitors should be aware of their ongoing responsibilities. The profession needs to comply with financial sanctions in place in the UK and to report frozen assets and other relevant information to OFSI immediately.

Juliet Oliver, SRA General Counsel, said: “Solicitors should be aware of their obligations under financial sanctions legislation and make sure they are not helping anyone with dubious funding streams. This risk exists for every single solicitor and law firm, whether conveyancing on the high street or handling global transactions.

“We would urge all of you to look at the review and, if a client is listed and you hold any of their assets, make a report as necessary.”

All completed reports should be emailed to ofsi@hmtreasury.gov.uk using the template on the GOV.UK website, which also feature more information on financial sanctions.

Paysafe appoints Zak Cutler to lead its North America iGaming business

Paysafe (NYSE:PSFE), a leading specialized payments platform, today announced it has appointed seasoned iGaming executive, Zak Cutler, as CEO, North America iGaming.

The newly created executive role, which reports directly into Group CEO, Philip McHugh, forms part of Paysafe’s ongoing strategic focus in the North American iGaming vertical which continues to show explosive growth as more and more states in the U.S. regulate online gambling, sports betting and iLottery.

Since the rapid legalization of the U.S. sports betting market starting May 2018, Paysafe has consistently stated its ambitions to be the iGaming industry’s payments partner of choice, building on its leadership in Canada and Europe. The company now provides 75% of operators in the country with payments or marketing solutions across 16 states. In Canada, Paysafe also holds a leading position and partners with the majority of regulated iLottery and gaming brands.

Cutler brings extensive industry experience to the role and a proven track record of driving growth in iGaming companies; he has held senior leadership roles at both starts ups as well as large, publicly traded companies. He joins Paysafe from Jackpocket, an innovative app that enables people to buy official state lottery tickets online, where he was VP of Strategy and Product. As one of Jackpocket’s first executive hires, he was responsible for developing the strategy, the product and the approach that enabled Jackpocket to swiftly expand into 10 U.S. jurisdictions, achieving a #7 entertainment app store ranking, and acquiring millions of new lottery customers in the process. While there, he also worked with celebrities, sports teams, and large media brands such as Barstool Sports to successfully grow Jackpocket’s brand presence nationally. Before that, Cutler worked as Director of Product Management for DraftKings, one of the world’s best-known brands in sports entertainment and gaming, where he was responsible for all product initiatives related to payment processing, U.S. compliance, and international expansion.

Philip McHugh, Paysafe’s CEO, commented: “We believe Paysafe has huge potential to win in North American iGaming given our track record as the de facto payments specialist in this sector globally. Now, with the additional leadership bench strength of Zak at the helm of our highly focused team, we are in a better position than ever to help operators seize the opportunities out there through the delivery of best-in-class payments products and services. Zak is very attuned to operator needs and is highly regarded by all who know him in the industry. He will be a real asset.”

Zak Cutler commented: “As a former Paysafe customer for many years, I’m thrilled to now have the opportunity to join the team in this capacity. While at Jackpocket and DraftKings, I was always impressed by Paysafe’s industry-leading products, and their foresight to invest in the North American iGaming industry long before it was in the mainstream. I also admired the team’s ability to develop deep relationships with customers. This approach resonates with my own style and commitment to helping iGaming operators grow rapidly through the delivery of outstanding products and unrivalled partnership. I’m really looking forward to playing my part now as a member of the team – I believe we are in the early innings of a massive opportunity!”

Seaglass Cloud Technology upgrades Deal Billing platform for fairer, more transparent billing

Seaglass Cloud Technology, an end-to-end, software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider to the energy sector, has launched a smart Deal Billing upgrade to its flexible sgBill module to provide the energy industry with highly configurable, scalable automated billing of energy at element level, based on its real-time value.

sgBill, provides suppliers with a comprehensive billing, payment, collections, and debt reporting tool, with a Deal Billing functionality that enables quantity and price elements of energy to be defined and obtained from multiple sources.

Deal Billing is an alternative to Tariff Billing and was initially designed for industrial and commercial (I&C) businesses and power generators that export energy into the grid through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). However, it could also be used by a variety of customer types with other complex or price component level agreements. It is suited to businesses looking to provide their customers with transparent and flexible approaches to energy supply – particularly useful within the leisure, agricultural and electric vehicle (EV) industries where energy usage makes up a large part of a business’ costs.

Alex Troth, Commercial Director at Seaglass Cloud Technology, says what much of the energy sector currently manages manually via complex and inflexible spreadsheets can now be fully automated through sgBill’s Deal Billing solution: “The purpose is to provide greater functionality and flexibility in how energy providers can bill their portfolios,” he says. “It is also about being able to show their customers how much energy they are using and when, so they can use these insights to make better informed decisions.”

Deal Billing enables businesses to self-bill when generating energy sold into the grid and create bespoke billing systems for clients so that any ‘deal’ can be modelled and accommodated. It therefore helps businesses take on more customers more easily – providing the same efficiency for a business managing 100 meters as 10,000.

Alex says that the system’s key benefit is its configurability: “It has been built from the ground up to be as configurable, scalable and auditable as possible. It gives businesses the power to determine how they charge and what margins they make, using pricing, energy purchasing volumes and bespoke formulas to calculate a fair rate.

“Deal Billing automatically incorporates pricing changes (and the costs of transmission, distribution etc) so the business does not need to manually account for these,” he explains. “It is the most transparent way a tariff can work.

“With the increasing use of smart meters, more businesses understand their energy usage and are looking to make efficiencies. Future industry developments – most notably the mandatory half-hourly settlement – are already built in and we predict the increasing need for such functionality.”

sgBill is one of six modules in Seaglass’ end-to-end system which include: sgInteract to handle all electronics communications with industry participants; sgServe to manage customer interactions and industry processes; sgPrice for highly-configurable, auditable and meter-specific prices; sgRisk delivering the tools to forecast usage, revenue and profit for any meter; and sgSign, a module to simplify the quote-to-contract journey.

‘15% of UK SMEs at risk of insolvency’

As many as 15% of the UK’s SMEs are rated ‘fragile’ and risk insolvency during the next four years as Covid-19 state support schemes are withdrawn, according to Euler Hermes, the world’s leading trade credit insurer.

State support softened the blow of the Covid-19 shock in 2020, reducing the number of fragile SMEs by more than 8,000 in Germany, France and the UK, according to the company’s research. The UK’s share of fragile SMEs is higher than its nearest European competitors, with Germany and France standing at 7% and 13% respectively.

The insurer’s research highlights the impact and success of the government’s various state support schemes and funding during the pandemic. In 2019 the share of SMEs at risk was 17% and Euler Hermes estimates the figure would stand at 26% today if government support hadn’t been implemented.

Euler Hermes’s forecasts are based on three indicators that can help detect corporate distress four years before a bankruptcy. These are profitability, capitalization and interest coverage. It applied the criteria to 525,000 SMEs across Europe to develop its forecasts.

Automotive manufacturers and suppliers rank among are among the most exposed, with around 36% within the sector exposed to the risk of insolvency. Euler Hermes also found that a quarter (25%) of those in the energy sector and almost one in five (19%) of construction firms will be vulnerable in the coming years.

Ana Boata, Head of Macroeconomic and Sector Research, Euler Hermes, said: “The story that emerges from our analysis is two-fold: While on the one hand government support has provided an incredibly effective safety net for swathes of the economy, the threat of insolvency remains all-too-real for many SMEs over the coming years.

“For now, businesses will need to deal with the economic headwinds that threaten to slow the global recovery while at the same time planning effectively for long-term growth. Supply chain disruption leaves many open to supply shortages and inflation which will limit growth, but we also expect SME payment terms and the length of time it takes to get paid for orders to rise as public support comes to an end.

“But there is some good news: while SMEs are more indebted after the Covid-19 crisis, public support helped improve their interest coverage ratios. Low interest rates on new loans also played a significant role, as did resilient profitability and significant efforts to keep cost pressures in check.”

APPG on Fair Business Banking’s insolvency report, R3 response

Duncan Swift, Past President of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3, responds to the publication of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Business Banking’s report on insolvency regulation: “The APPG’s work has restarted debate about the future of insolvency regulation, and how we can improve our already successful and internationally well-regarded regulatory framework. With the Government’s own consultation on the issue due to be published later this year, the APPG’s report is well timed.

“However, we were disappointed by elements of the report, which show a lack of understanding of the framework, the difficult circumstances in which the insolvency profession works, and the critical role it plays in rescuing businesses, preserving jobs and creating the confidence to trade and lend by returning money fairly to creditors.

“Indeed, the UK’s insolvency profession is one of the most regulated in the world, and helps to rescue thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of jobs, and returns billions of pounds to creditors every year. Since 2016, it has consistently ranked within the top 14 in the world in the ‘Resolving Insolvency’ section of the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ report.

“Members of the profession are highly qualified, highly regulated individuals whose work often requires them to take on the running of a financially distressed company almost overnight. They take their requirement to comply with the profession’s regulatory framework and its strict Code of Ethics incredibly seriously, and any insolvency practitioner who falls short of the Code of Ethics’ standards can and should be reported to their regulator for investigation.

“While the framework can be improved, the APPG’s portrayal of it is a partial one. In 2020, out of almost 124,000 personal and corporate insolvency procedures, there were only 371 complaints against IPs referred to regulators – or one complaint in every 334 cases.

“We welcome any opportunity to identify those improvements, but these need to be considered carefully. For example, the APPG’s call for a single regulator – something we’re not opposed to in principle – would not be a silver bullet solution for concerns about insolvency regulation.

“There is no guarantee that a single regulator would process disciplinary procedures more rapidly or effectively, while there are big questions about which organisation could take up the role. For example, the government assuming this role could lead to a conflict of interest as it would set insolvency legislation, regulate insolvency practitioners, and then, effectively, compete with those same insolvency practitioners for work – while not being subject to the same regulation itself.

“We look forward to engaging constructively with the Government’s consultation on this issue, to discuss how we can further improve the regulatory framework for insolvency. It’s important, however, that policy making in this area is evidence-based and relies on facts rather than assertion. That’s the best way to ensure that the optimal outcome is achieved for businesses, the profession and the wider public.”

Credit and cashflow expert joins fintech start-up to help businesses get paid

Philip King, the former Interim Small Business Commissioner (SBC) and acknowledged expert in the world of credit and cashflow management, has joined Debt Register, a payments Fintech, as an Advisor to the Founder, the Board and as an Industry Champion.

Philip, who prior to being appointed SBC was the Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM), has worked in the credit industry for more than 40 years, having held senior roles within Olivetti and Vodafone. He is the author of the Managing Cashflow Guides series and created the Prompt Payment Code at the behest of Peter Mandelson, the Secretary of State at the former Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

He joins Debt Register just as the Fintech is launched to help businesses get paid and address the long-standing issue of late payments: “I am a passionate supporter of small businesses and helping them get paid,” he explains, “and it is a passion I share with the founder and the senior team.

“What also attracts me to Debt Register is that it has a technology that is taking a different approach to collections through the clever use of data and creating a meaningful consequence for those disinclined to honour their contract terms.”

Gary Brown, Founder of Debt Register, says he is delighted to welcome Philip to the team: “His undoubted knowledge and first-hand practical experience of what small businesses and larger customers face will be invaluable to us as we look to transform the way businesses and credit managers address poor payment practice.”

Debt Register is, first and foremost, a global payment accelerator that enables a credit manager to identify late invoices on their ledger and allow the platform to do the rest. Debt Register contacts the debtor automatically and in the appropriate language, requesting that the payment is settled, and ensuring the invoice is correct and not in dispute. In trials, the purpose-built digital platform can resolve debts anything up to 10 times faster than traditional legal action, and for a fraction of the cost.

By leveraging its relationships with leading credit reference agencies (CRAs) to report unpaid and overdue debts, debtors are encouraged to settle any overdues promptly to avoid their credit scores being negatively impacted.

Bank backing helps developer complete luxury lakeside scheme

Essex House Builder Marden Homes Limited has secured a £17 million loan from Shawbrook Bank to help complete a unique, luxury lakeside scheme at The Channels development in Chelmsford, Essex.

The Developer turned to Shawbrook Bank midway through construction at The Lakes to secure the development finance required to help take the project through its final stages.

Construction at the £28 million scheme is split into two phases, with the 7 x houses now on track to complete by December 2021, and the 20 x apartments to complete by December 2022.

Its development comes as the pandemic prompts house buyers to seek properties with more surrounding space, with luxury finishes and the ability to work from home. The Lakes benefits from all of these as well as providing the usual amenities on the edge of Chelmsford City.

The development has been well received with secured sales early on for the houses with the company seeing strong interest in its remaining properties. The homes feature four double bedroom en-suites, open plan living spaces and balconies that open out onto a private lake.

Electricity will be generated by roof mounted solar panels with each of the homes equipped with electric vehicle charging points.

The scheme’s 20 waterside apartments and penthouse suites has already seen high demand with three already sold off-plan.

Mr Tappenden, Director at Marden Homes, said: “Priorities have shifted across the housing market in the last year, with more buyers looking outside of London for the highest standard of housing and for destinations that better connect them with the outdoors.

“This trend, coupled with an active housing market, is underpinning demand at The Lakes.

“The team at Shawbrook Bank showed an excellent understanding of the current market, how House Builders operate and of the specialist finance required behind a project like this. Their quick decision-making and appetite to fund the scheme part-way through has been crucial.”

Stewart Budge, Relationship Director for development finance at Shawbrook Bank, said: “Marden Homes has earned itself a reputation for developing quality homes in the region.

“Together with the scheme’s sustainability attributes, that made this an attractive project to back, where traditional lenders wouldn’t typically support a part-complete scheme.

“We worked closely with its team to identify specialist funding to meet their requirements, providing 65% loan to value (LTV) helping the company to refinance existing borrowing and to finish off the build.”

The Lakes is the latest phase forming part of Marden Homes, ‘Homes at Channels’ developments. Also, under construction and already selling off plan is their Wimbush Waters development consisting of 89 luxury homes and 11 apartments continuing the waterside theme. Both these luxury developments are located on the North side of Chelmsford, approximately 2 miles from the City Centre with direct links to London, Canary Wharf as well as the A12 and M25 road networks.

Shawbrook Bank recently passed £1 billion in total lending to property developers, comprising of affordable to high-end luxury schemes. As it targets its next £1 billion, the bank aims to support more developers that are innovating to deliver sustainable properties.

Check-it, Chase-it, Collect-it: Know-it launches new standard for credit management

Know-it, a Scottish fintech start-up, has today launched its beta cloud-based credit management platform. Founded by Lynne Darcey Quigley, the new platform gives businesses and its finance teams the tools to automate and simplify the way it manages credit risk and the credit control process, helping save time, reduce debtor days and increase cash flow.

The platform, which is the first of its kind, ensures that businesses can credit check and monitor, chase for payment, collect overdue unpaid invoices, and more all from one place. By partnering with some of the UK’s leading accountancy software and credit reference agencies – such as Xero, QuickBooks, Sage, FreeAgent and Graydon – users can instantly credit check companies, get live data and real-time updates to monitor customer’s credit behaviour and mitigate potential credit risks.

The beta platform also gives finance teams and business owners a simple way to check their customers credit worthiness. It also ensures customers pay on time through scheduled reminders and customisable chaser emails, letters and SMS, helping reduce debtor days and increasing cash flow. Users can also get instant quotes to collect unpaid invoices quickly and efficiently through their debt recovery partner Darcey Quigley & Co, as well as monitoring and acquiring reports on commercial debts.

Lynne Darcey Quigley, CEO and founder of Know-it explains: “Know-it is a fresh perspective on a traditional process – while the credit control process hasn’t really changed over time, our new unique platform brings together all credit control functions into one place. By removing the need to access and subscribe to multiple different platforms, our cloud-based platform streamlines the credit control process so you can credit check and monitor, chase for payment, collect overdue unpaid invoices and more all from one place. This is set to transform the way businesses view the credit control process, as it will immediately help them save time and costs by providing real-time data all from the convenience of one place.

“With light now at the end of the tunnel in terms of the pandemic, the road to recovery is underway for many across the business community. This is now a crucial time for technology to step in and offer a helping hand through an affordable and innovative credit management platform. In the past, smaller businesses in particular have been unable to access the necessary resources required to automate this process, which has left many on the receiving end of late payments and financial fraud. With the launch of Know-it’s platform, businesses of all sizes are now able to Check-it, Chase-it and Collect-it , all in real-time and without the headache of manual processing.”

The Know-it platform has launched against the backdrop of Covid-19, as well as an increasing culture of late payments and financial fraud, which have both mounted pressures on businesses and their finance departments. According to recent research, around 60% of SME owners believe that the government must offer greater support for businesses, this is despite the various support schemes having already been introduced.

Jack Malcolm, Relationship Manager, West Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland said: “Royal Bank of Scotland is proud to have played a part in Know-It’s journey, helping support Lynne and the team from their inception and beta testing, through to providing funding to achieve its growth plan and the launch of today’s credit management platform. As a leading champion of Scottish SMEs, we look forward to continuing to work with Know-It, and are excited to see what the future holds for this promising Scottish fintech.”

Lynne concludes: “Although this platform has been several years in the making, it was not our intention to launch the Know-it platform in the wake of a global pandemic, but there is a timely opening for the platform to provide an additional layer of support for vulnerable businesses at a time when they need it most. Support from automated and effective credit management systems have traditionally been out of reach until now, so we hope this pioneering technology will provide businesses with the comprehensive and holistic solution they need to work smarter, just as we begin to return to a sense of normality across the working world.”