A trade journal publisher has been declared insolvent, but liquidators say several attempts to contact the company’s sole director left them without any “meaningful information”.
An order was made in the High Court at Auckland on October 26 to put the company under. Marketplace Media was then liquidated at the request of applicant creditor Great Eagle Hotels (Auckland).
EY’s Rhys Cain and Larissa Logan are liquidators and said Fujifilm Business Innovation and Nicola McCord have registered securities over the business.
“On appointment, we were advised by the director that the company did not have any employees and we are not aware of any preferential claims, but the in-house accountant has advised there are outstanding wages incurred pre-liquidation not yet paid to her,” the liquidators wrote.
Simon Patrick Little of Campbells Bay is the sole director and 90 per cent owner of the company, with Glendowie’s Angela Mary Little holding the balance of shares.
No claim had been received from Inland Revenue for unpaid GST, PAYE or other related taxes.
The company does have assets, according to information it supplied to the liquidators: a masthead valued at $239,000, office equipment, $5 cash in the bank, furniture, fixtures and computers. That is collectively worth an estimated $250,000.
Liabilities are listed at $55,000, giving a possible surplus of $195,000, according to a statement of financial affairs.
However, the liquidators are yet to give any statement of financial position, and how much value is in assets the company listed at those amounts remains unknown.
Their initial report said Little had not provided them with a sufficient amount of information.
“The director advised on the day of the appointment that the company failed due to Covid-19, where the business had less disposable income, resulting in decreased marketing revenue and rising costs.
“Since this correspondence, the director has not provided further meaningful information despite us making several attempts to contact them via various channels, including phone calls, text messages and emails.
“The director has also declined two formal information requests we issued subject to Section 261 of the Companies Act 1993. A questionnaire was provided to the director, but this has not yet been completed and returned to us,” the liquidators’ initial report out last week said.
However, the Herald has been in touch with Little, who told Media Insider on November 17: “It’s hideous. It’s an absolutely hideous time at the moment for me”.
His father, Bud Little – a legend of the magazine publishing industry – set up Marketplace Press in 1984, while Marketplace Media was incorporated in 2009. It published three trade magazines - NZ Hardware Journal, Wares and NZ Outdoor Power Equipment.
Simon Little said the Covid pandemic and advertising market downturn had led to strong economic headwinds.
“I’ve been running the company for 30 years, and then Covid hit, and that was a bit of a bother, and then my dad died.”
Bud Little died in late 2020. He received a lifetime achievement award for his work in the magazine industry in 2014 and paid tribute to Simon during that speech, saying how proud he was of him and his sister regarding the way they had taken over the business.
“We had a good little company going, but the [advertising] market just turned. We had 13 staff, and we were all engaged, everyone was happy,” Simon Little said.
The pandemic – and the consequent necessity to have people working from home – was a big challenge, he said.
“We always used to come into work, and we’d have a lovely day, but then Covid hit and the market turned down and everything turned to s***, to be honest.”
Marketplace Media got an initial $32,000 in Covid cash from the Government when the pandemic broke out in March 2020, employing five people at that time. Then it got $21,000, $4000 and a further $35,000 wage subsidy.
Auckland’s five-star Cordis hotel - via Great Eagle Hotels (Auckland) - is listed as an unsecured creditor along with Microsoft New Zealand, New Zealand Post, New Zealand Couriers, Imagetext Publishing Systems of Epsom and Black Vault Events of Manukau.
Sniper System, Freeparking, Corporate Cabs and Soar Communications Group are other creditors.
Anne Gibson has been the Herald’s property editor for 23 years, has won many awards, written books and covered property extensively here and overseas.