Prominent media organisation Wimbledon Studios has been voluntarily placed into company administration by one of its major stakeholders, after an extended period of financial uncertainty.
Housing firm Panther Securities PLC – which is currently the freehold owner of Wimbledon Studios premises and possesses 25% equity in the business – has identified that their decision to use administration instead of liquidation as their preferred insolvency measure was made because they believe that have a ‘moral duty’ to provide other businesses on their site with a sufficient amount of time to prepare and locate new premises.
Nevertheless, they regretfully confirmed that the administration procedure is only being used in order to slow down the inevitable closure of Wimbledon Studios and cited “losses of significant funds on its corporate investment and loans” to the company as the driving reason behind their decision to part ways with the media organisation.
The news marks the latest chapter in a turbulent few weeks for all involved with Wimbledon Studios after the businesses managing director, Piers Read, resigned from his position last week after having a series of alleged arguments with Panther over a lack of funds and investment.
The sites premises comprises of two 8,000 square feet filming studios and sets, as well as 40 SME’s which supply the crew and members of the media with different services whilst they are working on site.
However, with an expected final closure date expected sometime in September, all of these small businesses will now have to find new sites to work on, though they have been provided with support from Panther in order to achieve this endeavour. Panther argued that as a “long-term supporter of small businesses”, they believed that have “a moral duty to smaller businesses and, as such, is prepared to support a slower close down process via administration rather than a forced liquidation, which would result in lower costs to Panther”.
“This slower close down will give the many small businesses in the media village time to prepare and find alternative premises.”
Panther disclosed that their initial investment into their 25% equity stake in Wimbledon Studios cost them £150,000, after which a loan totalling £622,-000 was given to the media company in order to bolster their working finances.
The property firm also confirmed in a statement that they had managed to drawn this down, and had been given excellent support from the site’s landlord, who “assisted the Wimbledon Studios business by not collecting rent and lease payments for fixtures” – even though he was owed over £1.5 million.
Panther has identified they have begun searching for new parties to purchase the site, and have confirmed that they have received two offers from two undisclosed bidders.
Meanwhile, former finance manager David Smith, who left his role last week with Mr Read, has returned to the company and assumed the position of the company director.
Panther outlined that Mr Smith would be heavily involved with Wimbledon Studios in the upcoming weeks in order to “assist the trading business close down in the least harmful manner”.
They added: “This has shown true loyalty to the various affected parties including the media village and studio employees, considering the sudden resignation of the previous managing directors”.