The ghosts of Polestar return, Flybe’s CCJs, Antalis take-over latest in protracted sale and Pizza Express served with a winding up order by a landlord

Pizza Express served with winding up order and other news including the ghosts of Polestar return (plus latest on Antalis)

The 1,500 workers and suppliers to the once mighty Polestar printing company might be having a moment of déjà vu this week after Print Week reported two of the firm’s directors were back in business.

In 2016 the company that once turned over more than £216m printing 50m magazines a week went into administration with PwC never to return. Until now. Jo Francis writing for the trade journal Print Week reports: “Former Polestar chief executive Barry Hibbert and chief operating officer Peter Andreou are two of the three directors behind newly-formed company Alpha Financial Investments, which was registered at Companies House last month. Hibbert and Andreou, who is registered under his Cypriot name of Panayiotis Andreou, have equal stakes in the business together with the third shareholder, Christon Burrows. Burrows founded property investment management firm P1 Capital in 2017. Prior to that he was chief executive of Lucidus Capital Partners, which liquidated its $900m high-yield fund portfolio in 2015. The investment focus of the new venture is not clear. It is described as a ‘financial services holding company’ at Companies House. The share capital is £300.”

Pic: Print Week

Unpaid invoices

Ian Carrotte of ICSM Credit has mixed memories of the 2016 collapse as several of the credit intelligent group’s members were left with unpaid invoices while others were alerted to the imminent crash by ICSM and managed to get paid.

He said: “I know Mr Hibbert was the boss of Polestar for a long time but quit when it went bust. It caused a massive effect in the magazine publishing world at the time with job losses and lot of people getting their fingers burnt. Another of the directors Andreou left before the fall but joined Circle Media which as went bust. When a supplier is approached by a new customer they should not only look at their credit rating and company history but also at the directors and their track record.”

Japanese KPP’s Antalis acquisition

Also in Print Week Jo Francis reports on the sale of Antalis to Japan outfit Kousai Pulp and Paper (KPP) with two of the hoops jumped through in the complex deal announced last month. She reported: “In an update, Antalis said that on 22 April the supervisory judge overseeing the liquidation of Antalis’ majority shareholder Sequana issued an order authorising the sale of all the Antalis shares currently held by Sequana.”

She continued: “Sequana is the biggest shareholder in Antalis with a 75.2% stake. Bpifrance holds an 8.5% stake, while public investors hold the remaining 16.25% of the business. KPP has agreed to buy the Sequana stake at a price of €0.10 per share, and the Bpifrance shares for €0.40 per share. The deal also includes a financial restructuring. Of Antalis’ existing €287.1m finance facility, €187m will be written off, with a new €100m financing deal put in place by KPP with Mizuho Bank.”

Pizza News

Meanwhile in Company Rescue Robert Moore reports that the landlord of one of Pizza Express’s 450 outlets has applied for a winding up order to be heard in June. The Chinese owned restaurant chain is in serious trouble said Moore and is unable to pay is debts of £655m.

He reports: “In our view the collapse of Pizza Express is a distinct possibility given the current pandemic. The debt is going to have to be refinanced in 2 years time and it cannot pay the interest on its current loans. City sources are expecting the most likely outcome is a debt for equity swap.  However, it is likely that in order to improve their cash position they may well try and get rent concessions from landlords.  As the High Street suffers a big drop in spending then rents are likely to have to come down sooner rather than later and the larger firms such as Pizza Express will be in a strong position to get concessions.”

CCJs for airline

Flybe have had two County Court Judgements filed agains the defunct company on April 28, both for over £600. There seems likely they will be paid since the company's liquidation earlier this year. The Exeter based airline was one of the first high profile casualities of the Covid-19 crisis as air travel was curtailed.

ICSM Credit

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