Halliwells’ administrators seek funds to cover £200m of debts

Failed firm Halliwells owes creditors a total of around £200m, a letter from its joint administrators has revealed.

BDO partners Dermot Power and Shay Bannon, who were appointed joint administrators of the firm last year, have contacted all known creditors stating that they have received unsecured claims totaling £191,521,921.

The sum is much greater than the £14.1m that was initially believed to be owed to unsecured creditors including HM Revenue & Customs and the landlord of the firm’s former headquarters at Spinningfields (20 September 2010).

The higher figure is believed to have been calculated by taking into account the remainder of the term of all leases, some of which have as much as 20 years left on them.

The document, seen by The Lawyer, claims that £176,499,347 is owed to landlords and £5,679,582 to lease creditors, while HMRC is owed £4.3m in tax and £1.2m in VAT, it is alleged.

In November RBS, which is owed £17.7m, was one of several creditors to form a committee to try to recover funds. Other creditors on the committee are: HMRC; a German fund run by Credit Suisse Asset Management, which is the landlord of the firm’s former headquarters at Spinningfields; ING Lease UK; and Halliwells’ Liverpool landlord, Bruntwood 2000 Beta Portfolio (22 November 2010).

The administrators’ letter also indicates that to date a total of £4.3m has been received from selling off parts of the business. Hill Dickinson paid £1.4m, Kennedys £197,000, BLG £1.25m and HBJ Gateley Wareing £1.5m. The administrators expect to receive a total of £7.4m from the law firm purchasers.

An additional £200,000 has been made from selling company cars and the administrators are also hoping to recover funds from the sale of Wembley corporate hospitality tickets.

While many jobs were saved through the sale of the business, the letter discloses that 22 per cent of all employees lost their jobs. Out of 671 employees, 83 redundancies were made when the firm went into administration on 20 July 2010, and a further 66 jobs were lost after a transitional period expired in the autumn.