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Financial Concerns for UK ISP Origin Broadband After CVA Proposal

Thursday, December 6th, 2018 (9:24 am) - Score 3,863

The Directors of Doncaster-based budget ISP Origin Broadband, which last week hit the headlines due to staff redundancies (here), are now in the process of trying to reach a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) with its creditors. Documents seen by ISPreview reveal that Origin has around £5m in “total unsecured creditors“.

The CVA is essentially an insolvency procedure, which allows a company with debt problems or that is insolvent to reach a voluntary agreement with its business creditors (i.e. paying them back over a fixed period). Assuming the creditors agree to such a proposal (i.e. it must be approved by creditors who are owed at least 75% of the debt) then the ISP will continue trading.

According to the documentation, Origin have appointed “business recovery professionalsChamberlain & Co (chartered accountants) to act on their behalf in this matter and to draw up the necessary proposal (hence creditors now being notified of the CVA proposal). A vote and decision to approve or reject the CVA is due to be taken on 20th December 2018.

Prior to its growth spurt Origin is said to have had 4,000 residential customers in November 2016, which more recently peaked at 36,000, although apparently their “legacy systems and processes had been inadequate to deal with growth,” which is said to have resulted in “substantial bad debts” of £884K in the period ended 31st March 2018 (a full year loss of £7m is listed for this period), with a further £883K in the year to date.

The company has also ended up with some historic liabilities. For example, the biggest liability reflects £3.68 million attached to Openreach (BT) for the provision of line rental and exchange services. The company is said to have made some “force majeure” or essential payments to a number of key suppliers in order to ensure the continuation of business up to the date of the CVA meeting.

Elsewhere Origin’s unsecured creditors list also includes HMRC, Affiliate Window (legal claim), landlords (rent / loans), employees, trade creditors and so forth. In response the CVA proposes that, among other things, Origin should make monthly contributions of £55,835 for a period of 36 months (starting January 2019), which comes to a total of £2,010,060 but the accountants could yet decide to increase those contributions for the final 3 months.

On top of that Origin is also proposing to cut their staff count by approximately 42% (hence last week’s news), raise further investment of £2m (apparently a deal could come next month) and will try to grow their base of residential subscribers (a difficult proposition in the current climate and with fewer staff to support it).

In theory Origin could still pull itself out of the mud. Nevertheless the situation will no doubt cause concern for both customers of the service and all those staff in the redundancy pile, particularly as it comes just a few weeks before Christmas (one of the most expensive times of the year).

Should the CVA be rejected by either shareholders or creditors, Origin will need to consider alternative insolvency options. Sometimes creditors feel that better returns would be achieved using a different option, or assume that compulsory liquidation is the preferable route, although this is generally not the case in practice.

Over the past couple of weeks we have repeatedly tried to reach Origin for a comment or clarification but the response continues to be one of silence.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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13 Responses
  1. SpencerUk says:

    I feel for the staff that’s at Origin. Such news so close to festive period isn’t gonna be good.. Having said that, anyone with half a brain cell would have concluded they were in financial trouble.
    Since the collapse of Digital Region they haven’t really recovered. Their reputation was in tatters when they cut everyone off and assured everyone service would continue. Still chuckles me now that..

  2. Claire says:

    Also feel for the staff on the shopfloor, been a lot of mismanagement here. Having seen the figures owed and to who its frightening. Wouldnt surprise me if there is an investigation into the running of this company.

  3. Best to not say says:

    The staff where told that they would definitely recive there pay by Oliver himself the head of the company if they where made redundant and not to worry . Only to then be told second hand by staff that are still there they have no intention of paying them and leaving many with no money for Christmas or bills they have lied to peoples faces and ruined many life’s they don’t deserve to carry on as a business

    1. Also best not to say says:

      the same Oliver by chance who said its ok to resinstate customers direct debits without their knowledge as they owe him money!

  4. Watch This Space ....... says:

    As an employee being made redundant I am hoping that they will keep to their word and pay wages as promised on the 14th of December. The documents do not make it clear if they will or won’t. I have secondhand information from an employee that has not been let go that they are not going to pay. We will just have to wait and see.

  5. Shame says:

    One of the worst was this horrible excuse for a complaints person called Hollie. She was reported for bullying colleagues and having loud tantrums in the office. She used to lie about doing work and even bragged about being an escort and being on porn sites. I hated working around her. She was vile.

    Everyone thought she was a compulsive liar and a joke in general tbh and her incompetence must have cost the company a fortune. Perfect example of a cancerous individual who should never have been taken on.

  6. Hard work and dedication count for sh*t says:

    How a company can legitimately not pay employees for work they have done whilst continuing to pay ridiculous salaries for some of those still employed to do very little is completely beyond me!

    I hope every single broadband customer moves elsewhere as soon as possible!

  7. Ex Staff says:

    As a now ex member of staff who used to work in the debt recovery and billing team I can now let everybody know that origin don’t have a correct chase process when customers just up and leave so if every customer went elsewhere they may send you a couple of emails asking for money but they can’t enforce it so you would be let off with the cease bill

  8. Ex Staff says:

    As an Ex employee for Shorigin fraudband, I can plainly say that it is the worse company to work for, don’t get me wrong the management we’re amazing but their processes we’re absolute dog shit, Oliver doesn’t know how to run a business, don’t know his arse from his elbow. How about concentrating on NOT spending your money on stupid shit, oh whilst you’re at it, getting selling your Range Rovers, and your fancy big house to put some money back into your corrupt business, I absolutely hated the place but my team kept me afloat. I hated lying to customers about their refunds and telling them it’ll take 30 days… Hope you have a good Christmas Bryssau try not to choke on ya sprouts.

  9. 5G Infinity says:

    Looking at the history, accounts etc it hasn’t been viable since early 2016. So whether its the management or inability to get sufficient customers onboarded I am not sure – but above messages highlight some of the internal challenges.

  10. Legally I can’t say says:

    Basically agreeing with everything previously said. While telling us we’re not going to be getting paid Oliver is bragging about all the money he has and how much he’s spending on Christmas. Why not spend it on staff wages you promised? Used to think he was a good guy just wanting to help but he’s just another money hungry corporate wanna be. See you in job centre when you go bust 🙂

  11. You can’t write this stuff says:

    A security company has now been taken on to prevent access into the building – they could have just paid us what we’re owed then they wouldn’t have to be worried about angry mobs trying to talk to HR and management…

    1. Joe b says:

      He doesn’t like paying, I have done work for him personally at his home address. Owes me a lot of money and has not paid 5 months later

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