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July 27, 2010

Vantis assets go under the hammer

UK consolidator Vantis has been
sold to various parties, with RSM Tenon and newly formed firms FRP
Advisory and Beavis Morgan securing a bulk of the assets.

The fire sale was executed in a
matter of days, symbolic of the rapid turn of fortunes for a
business that began to unravel earlier this year due to spiralling
debt.

It had been widely speculated that
Vantis suffered due to fee collection problems from insolvency work
on high-profile client Stanford Investment Bank (SIB). The
International Accounting Bulletin has learned that too
much debt, rather than one engagement, played a more important role
in sealing Vantis’s fate.

Rival UK consolidator RSM Tenon,
understood to have been circling the ailing AIM-listed company for
some time, acquired Vantis’s Business Advisory and Tax Services
offices in London, Epsom and Leicester, which will augment its own
operations in those centres. RSM Tenon also secured Vantis
Financial Management and Vantis’s Thames Valley recovery
office.

The acquisitions are predicted to
add annual revenue of £27m ($41.8m) and save 300 jobs. RSM Tenon
will make an initial payment of £5.7m in cash on completion and
deferred payment of up to £1.1m payable in cash that is subject to
realisation of debtors purchased as part of the acquisition.

Independent business recovery firm
FRP Advisory has been formed as a result of a management buyout of
Vantis Business Recovery Services (Vantis BRS). The new firm was
secured by 28 Vantis partners and is led by Geoff Rowley and Jeremy
French. It has 200 staff in nine former Vantis BRS offices in the
UK.

Vantis BRS reported revenue of
£27.8m and an operating profit £6.9m in its most recent fiscal
year.

“That business has always been
profitable and was one of the most successful businesses within the
Vantis stable. It was about a third of the Vantis revenue but a
significant profit contributor,” FRP head of restructuring services
Adrian Doble said.

FRP Advisory will provide a suite
of restructuring, recovery and insolvency services to businesses
and financial institutions in the mid-market, including banking and
business review, personal and corporate insolvency, refinance,
turnaround and crisis management, interim management and
asset-based finance.

The firm is hoping to continue its
insolvency work on Stanford International Bank (SIB). Former Vantis
partners Nigel Hamilton-Smith and Peter Wastell, now part of FRP
Advisory, are challenging an Antigua court decision that ruled they
should be removed as liquidators. The appeal is before the Eastern
Caribbean Court of Appeal.

A management buyout of Business
Advisory and Tax Services in London City has led to the formation
of Beavis Morgan, which has 73 staff and provides business,
assurance and taxation advice. The rest of Vantis has been bought
out by other groups.

HLB International, which lost its
UK coverage as a result of Vantis’s collapse, is exploring
multiple-firm coverage in the UK.

The Vantis break up: Several firms moved quickly to buy parts of UK consolidator Vantis

 

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