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Fibre Engineering Firm Lite Access UK Calls in the Administrators UPDATE

Saturday, December 12th, 2020 (7:46 am) - Score 4,344
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The UK division of civil engineering firm Lite Access Technologies, which specialises in deploying fibre optic (e.g. FTTP) broadband infrastructure (they’ve won contracts with Cityfibre, Gigaclear etc.), has filed a notice of intent to appoint an administrator after they suffered “challenges” related to their “ongoing builds” and COVID-19.

Administration often occurs when a company, such as one that is in financial difficulty, is put into the hands of an administrator. The administrator then decides whether or not they can help the company to continue running or sell it off for a good price. Generally, this isn’t something you’d think would happen to a company like Lite Access in a rapidly growing fibre market like the UK, but it has.

The problems first began to become apparent at the end of last month, when Lite Access announced that they had “temporarily suspended UK operations” due to the “ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to become worse, along with challenges related to its ongoing builds.” Despite this, other civil engineering firms seem to now be coping well, although quite a bit of adaptation was required during the first lockdown in March.

Last month the company said they were “unable to meet targets with the continuing conditions” and had opted for a temporary suspension in order to give time for a consultation with stakeholders to “optimize both its current operations and existing contracts in a COVID-19 environment.” A more positive update followed on 1st December 2020, which announced that the company “will resume partial UK operations effective immediately.”

Lite Access has now issued another statement, which confirms that they have “elected to file a notice of intent to appoint an administrator“. The purpose of this filing is to “create a moratorium over the Company for a period of 10 days in order to protect the assets of Lite Access UK.”

Carlo Shimoon, President & CEO of Lite Access, said:

“We plan to use our core team members to continue advanced discussions with a number of potential UK customers and aggressively pursue other attractive opportunities in the UK FTTP market. Despite these recent developments, the UK FTTP market remains incredibly attractive as the government is working with industry to target a minimum of 85% gigabit capable coverage by 2025 and seeks to accelerate rollout further to get as close to 100% as possible in numerous cities and towns across the UK.”

The situation will come as a blow to both the company, as well as those that have been working with them. On top of that it follows shortly after a string of recent contract wins, which for example saw them hoover up fibre optic rollout contracts with Cityfibre in Cambridge, Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds (they’ve also worked with various other broadband and telecoms firms, such as Gigaclear and Openreach).

Some of our sources within the industry have confirmed that Lite Access has not been performing at the top of their game and appear to have lost some support. For example, Cityfibre are no longer working with them. A number of companies used by Lite Access in Lowestoft have also contacted us to complain of being left with unpaid bills, such as Lowestoft Car Hire, which claims to have been left £15,000 out of pocket.

We had been in the process of investigating all this when the announcement of their intent to appoint an administrator dropped into our inbox. Shares in Lite Access have been hit hard.

 

UPDATE 14th December 2020 – 7am

We’ve received a comment from Cityfibre.

A Cityfibre spokesperson said:

“We can confirm that we are no longer working with Lite Access Technologies and construction has been paused as we plan for next year with the intention of appointing a new build partner.

We expect to recommence construction as soon as practicable and continue to bring gigabit speed broadband to thousands more homes and businesses.”

Leave a Comment
6 Responses
  1. Avatar A_Builder says:

    Very sad when this happens: not nice for the founders/directors or creditors never mind workforce/contractors.

    It is a very challenging environment ATM with the self employed mostly having a few months off so they can claim Rishi’s £7.5k handout.

    The reality is that they are all moonlighting and doing cash work. Strangely most of our self employed guys have changed their payment vehicle over the last couple of months…..

    Of course this creates a completely false labour shortage, driving costs up and hammering outputs.

    Just what we all need: not.

    Then you stir in the supply chain mess that has been brewing up since the first lockdown. Add a bit of BREXIT for flavouring. Et Voila – ‘Le Mess Most Terrible’ served lukewarm – the speciality of the ‘ouse.

    In this case I would *guess* that the CifyFibre contract was taken on at a low price that might have been viable under older market conditions. They couldn’t get the labour to make the progress and so entered the downwards spiral and got thrown off it and that lead them where they are now.

    It is a very hard thing trading a business out of a down cycle and requires a lot of skill determination and support/trust from creditors. Unfortunately in construction people get very aggressive very quickly and start throwing around winding up orders, which is really an abuse of process, as they should go through Small Claims / County Court first, thus making the end result inevitable.

    Construction is a very cyclical business.

    There is a big difference between those who serially flush businesses into administration and those to who it happens once or twice.

    1. Avatar Barry Haggerty says:

      They are without doubt the most unorganised mess I’ve ever had the displeasure of contracting to. There was no labour shortage they just didn’t pay anyone on time, if at all. We are owed 53k and the way they have handles it is disgraceful. We stayed on to build when all others had walked off due to promises we were a preferred supplier and wouldn’t have the same trouble getting paid.
      They are finished in the UK as they have upset and jeapordised too many businesses. Mine included. Carlo who is passionate about people won’t even respond to us. Their back office not a peep in weeks. Weak company and weak leadership.

  2. Avatar C Taylor says:

    Perhaps you should look into how much CityFibre might have owed. Or how many contractors have left CityFibre and are in dispute with them. Why do you think Bechtel was brought in??

    Examine why LiteAccess stopped work, and then restarted.

    Stop being a shill for CityFibre and get both sides of the story

    1. Avatar A_Builder says:

      I’d say it was a balanced article.

      If there is another side why not point Mark Jackson where to find the relevant facts?

    2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Hi C Taylor,

      I had to edit out some bits of your comments because these are made anonymously and so have no legal protection against slander, which could fall on us. If you have solid information that I can investigate and evidence, which is more than mere hearsay, then please do send it my way.

      We only know what people in the right places are willing to share (anonymous comments are no use) and there must be a sufficient body of evidence before I can write about it factually. I have not previously heard much about the specific contractor disputes you mention, although these do happen between operators from time to time and most are eventually resolved.

      Your advice to “call the company” is all well and good but most will not actually give us anything except a non-specific PR response (public muck slinging can be counter-productive in this trade and so most will avoid it), assuming they reply at all. Likewise, a contracting company may have good reason for withholding funds, which again is why we need evidence and not hearsay in order to investigate.

      Just to add, we contacted both companies for the above article (Cityfibre expect to give us a comment on Monday), but so far, the only evidence I’ve had to act on has come from those that were hurt by Lite Access. So, I repeat, if you want us to investigate something wider then we need evidence from people with authority to speak, either on or off the record. I can’t act on anonymous hearsay.

  3. Avatar Anthony betts says:

    I have worked at liteacess for a year . They owe our company £44 thousand .bullshit of them last six weeks keep working you get paid .I have messages of Carlo and Noel saying getting paid they even had cheek to ask 20% discount .they emptied bury yard 3 weeks ago they have nearly cleared Lowestoft .be grateful if you could forward administrator name number .so we can contact them .they are two and there are just clearing everything of value out how come they can pay someone to do this but not us .city Fibre should settle the contractors who have been caught by them I personally no they have knocked loads of people .any info or ways to get our money and everyone else’s would be handy

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