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Bolton hints at return to buy back stricken firm

Edeus went into administration last week in a move that has resulted in chief executive Michael Bolton leaving the firm while other staff remain in the short term to see if a buyer can be found.

In an interview with Money Marketing, Bolton says he is proud of what he and his team achieved both before and after last August when all mortgage funding became strained.

He says there is enough cash in the business to allow redundancy packages to be paid to all the remaining 26 staff. He also holds out the possibility that he may buy back the firm as part of a consortium in the next few weeks but says this would not be for the purposes of lending.

KPMG joint administrator Allan Graham confirmed that the business will continue to trade while a buyer is sought.

He says: “Edeus has successfully transformed its business model to focus on credit assessment and collections work and has won contracts with several major companies. However, the cond- itions in the housing and financial markets have led to the directors appointing administrators. Over the next few days, we will be evaluating the business as we work towards securing a going-concern sale.”

KPMG says all customers on the Edeus mortgage book will be unaffected and their loans will continue to be serviced as normal.

Bolton says: “What we have achieved in a short time confirmed the ability of that group of people to deliver what they said they would. We took the whole intermed- iary proposition to another plane, with the likes of GMAC and HBOS trying to catch up with us.

“We are clearly a victim, like many of our peers, of this credit crunch. We have survived 14 months and have been doing a good job for a number of our business partners in the interim, otherwise we would have not have got funded this far.

“We have endeavoured to honour the asset that was left over last August. We did manage to get some trades away which carried on paying the bills.”

Bolton admits the writing was on the wall in the last few months but believes the firm handled itself well.

“Not only did we fund out the entire mortgage pipeline during that time with our two banks, Merrills and Deutsche, but we also kept on the right side of the FSA. Everything we have done has been treating customers fairly,” he says.

“Last month, we managed to finalise the sale of the two special vehicles, one with the Merrills’ warehouse, one with the Deutsche warehouse, back to those two banks where each have got circa £300m worth of assets. It is good quality. Those guys are probably going to hold on to it to maturity. That is what I would do.

“We reached the time where the two banks said: ‘You have had a good run, if you can’t find an investor to move the business on, we are going to call it a day at the end of September.’ And that is what they have done.”

Bolton says that becoming an asset manager was not sufficient to keep the business going. “We have had one recent success in terms of doing due diligence work but not enough to keep the business alive. There is enough cash in the business to keep the staff on for the next few weeks. This is an orderly pro-cess. As part of the nego- tiations with our banks, we have agreed money for redundancy terms.”

He adds that all those who have left the business previously have also received redundancy terms.

Edeus has had an insol- vency practitioner involved with the business since last December to manage this process and Bolton says there is a negligible amount owed to creditors.

He says: “I am not discoun- ting, as part of a consortium, buying back the business and I have told the administrator I am interested in buying back the business. There is a chance we may be coming back in the next few weeks.”

Bolton emphasises that no money is owed to brokers and that Edeus completed on its last loan six months ago.

Premier Mortgage Service managing director John Malone says: “In the short period as a lender, it prov- ided our industry with innovative, creative and quality products which intermediaries and clients enjoyed the benefit of. This is a sad news for our industry. I would thank all Edeus employees past and present for all their support.”

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