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Newspaper company goes into administration

The company which owned the Oxford Courier and Oxford Journal has gone into administration.

Clive Everitt, of Oxford accountants Shaw Gibbs, has been appointed administrator of Courier Newspapers (Oxford) Ltd.

Under a so-called “pre-pack” agreement, publishing manager Howard Taylor has a new company, Biz Publishing Ltd, which has bought the goodwill and assets of Courier Newspapers (Oxford) Ltd.

Howard said: “The key thing is that all of our titles are continuing to be published.”

The Courier group’s 24 staff have been taken on by the new company.

A statement from Shaw Gibbs Insolvency & Corporate Recovery Services said: “Subsequent to the Administration the business and assets of Courier Newspapers Limited, excluding book debts, was sold to Biz Publishing Limited of Griffins Court, 24 – 32 London Road, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 1JX.

“The sale has achieved the continuation of the business, a maximisation of value for the creditors of Courier Newspapers Limited and has also secured the jobs of the employees of Courier Newspapers Limited all of whom have had their contracts of employment transferred to Biz Publishing Limited.”

Courier Newspapers (Oxford) Ltd was bought by Tri Media Publishing Ltd, owned by Howard Taylor, from Milestone Group plc last October.

At the time it acquired the lease to a large building, and the papers have now relocated to smaller premises.

After being taken over by Tri Media Publishing, the company replaced its four editions – the North, West and South Oxford Courier Journals and the Oxford City Journal – with two editions, the South Oxfordshire Courier and the Oxford Journal.

Tri Media itself was sold off by parent company, Milestone Group, late last summer.

Tri Media Publishing also owns the Basingstoke Observer, which is unaffected.

Pre-pack agreements are common practice in insolvency where an administrator, whose primary aim is to try and rescue a business as a going concern, decides the best outcome achievable is for the sale of goodwill and assets to be agreed and packaged up and sold on a “pre-pack” basis, often to someone who was closely involved with running the first company.

This is sometimes referred to known as a “phoenix” scenario, when a business is effectively saved by the start of a new company which is a new entity with limited liability. Proper market value must be paid, and the purchase price can be used towards paying creditors of the first company, which typically will then be dissolved or wound-up.