Leonard Curtis to oversee administration of viral media firm Unilad

10 October 2018 Consultancy.uk 2 min. read
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Partners from Leonard Curtis Business Rescue & Recovery have been appointed joint administrators of viral news and pop culture website Unilad. The site, best known for its regular updates on Facebook, collapsed after accruing debts of more than £6 million.

Launched in 2010 by Alex Partridge, then a 21-year-old student at Oxford Brookes University, Unilad is a digital media company which provides social news and entertainment – though its “social-first” approach means it is broadly associated with more sensationalised stories than hard-hitting journalism. Since its launch, the group has expanded to offices in London and Manchester, but its ownership has also changed hands in acrimonious circumstances, something at the heart of its current predicament.

In 2014, Liam Harrington and Sam Bentley acquired ownership of the brand name and inherited its Facebook page. Following his exit from the group, Alex Partridge took the holding company's new owners, Bentley Harrington, to court. Partridge successfully argued he had been cut out of the business, and Bentley Harrington was ordered to pay him the sum of £5 million. On top of this, earlier in October, the company was also found to owe HMRC an additional £1.5 million in taxes.

Leonard Curtis to oversee administration of viral media firm Unilad

Administration came after a hearing at a specialist Insolvency and Companies Court in London. During proceedings, Judge Clive Jones heard that a creditor and directors of the firm agreed that administrators should be appointed. As a result, two Partners at corporate recovery consultancy Leonard Curtis have been appointed as Unilad’s joint administrators.

Andrew Poxon and Andrew Duncan are now seeking offers for the business, as they look to “preserve jobs and maximise the return to creditors”. The company employs more than 200 people, and according to Leonard Curtis, Unilad regularly achieves four billion monthly video views across nine channels. The Unilad Facebook account alone has 39 million followers and posts viral videos and news stories.

According to reports circulated by the UK press, Unilad’s existing financial backer, Linton Capital, has offered the administrators £10 million in cash “to acquire the substantial part of the business”, as part of a joint bid with the internet investment company Rocket Sports. Rocket Sports, is a network of 300 news creators on social media.

Meanwhile, HM Revenue and Customs officials have issued a petition to wind up Bentley Harrington in separate litigation. That case will come to court on 31 October.

Related: Begbies Traynor quickly sells Bestival out of administration.