NEWS15 October 2009

Engage Group restructures debt and agency focus

Financials UK

UK— Testing market conditions and a heavy debt burden have led to a major restructure at stakeholder engagement firm Engage Group, including a change of ownership.

Chairman Nigel Pearcy and CEO Chris Copland have become majority shareholders in the business, replacing private equity group Iceni Capital which continues to hold a minority stake.

The firm has also entered into a five-year Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) with its creditors, supervised by financial services firm BDO.

CVAs can be proposed by insolvent or contingently insolvent companies to help them restructure their debt in a way that allows them to avoid liquidation and keep trading.

Secured creditors will be fully repaid, said Pearcy. Unsecured creditors will only receive a portion of what they are owed, although Pearcy would not disclose how much would go unpaid.

As part of a wider restructuring of the company, some 10% of Engage’s workforce was made redundant. Andy Brown and Sarah Jordan, who joined the firm from YouGov to establish a new research and analytics service earlier this year, remain with the business, Pearcy said.

In a statement posted on Engage’s website, Pearcy and Copland say they have refocused the company’s offer around three “key delivery areas” – strategic advice, the creation of integrated user-centric communications, and analysis and measurement to “provide insight and test effectiveness”.

Pearcy said: “Discussions with leading organisations in the private and public sectors show significant interest for a broader and more integrated approach to communications, linked to clearer measurement of engagement effectiveness, particularly in these difficult economic times.”