Wednesday 22 November 2017

Telecoms provider Nowtel goes bust with debts of €140m

Laura Noonan

Laura Noonan

A little-known Irish telecoms provider has gone bust with unpaid debts of close to €140m.

Sources last night confirmed that Dublin-based Nowtel Europe and Nowtel Global, which specialised in selling "prepaid telephone solutions" across Europe and Asia, was wound up last week.

Creditors were told that Nowtel Global had assets of about €23,000, and debts of close to €100m. Nowtel Europe folded with about €140,000 of assets and creditors of €43m.

Nowtel's website describes the business as "one of the fastest-growing telecommunications providers in Europe" and boasts of the group's position as one of the "top 60 privately owned businesses in Europe".

International telecoms giants Verizon is understood to be nursing the heftiest losses, with €14.5m owed by Nowtel Europe and another €10m owed by Nowtel Global.

Other creditors include "global communications service provider" Wavecrest UK Limited, US telecoms giant Cable & Wireless and "information-delivery platform" Colt Technology Services.

The Irish companies also have an €18m debt to a sister-outfit in Hong Kong, which has moved to have Baker Tilly Ryan Glennon's George Maloney installed as liquidator.

Verizon had proposed KPMG's Kieran Wallace as liquidator and is understood to be "considering its position".

The cause of Nowtel's collapse is unclear, but the last filed accounts for the companies blamed higher airtime costs from suppliers and the cost of entering new markets for losses in 2009.

The Nowtel Europe and Nowtel Global companies are both ultimately owned by Osbert Bell and Asif Karim, and are connected to companies in Hong Kong, England and Wales.

The latest accounts for Nowtel Europe show turnover of £116m in the 13 months to July 2009, delivering profits of £1.8m. It closed the period with a shareholders' liability of £6.54m but said it should be considered a going concern as it had sourced cheaper suppliers and entered new markets.

"The group is well placed to increase revenue at a profitable return," its directors said, adding they were "confident" the group could meet its liabilities as it continues to grow.

Nowtel Global achieved a turnover of £90.7m for the same period but racked up losses of £18.5m, a result blamed on higher airtime prices.

Irish Independent

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