The High Court has appointed joint provisional liquidators to a software company after a proposed multimillion-euro investment from Bank of America fell through.
Marco Polo Network Operations (Ireland) Limited, which has a registered address at Penrose Dock, Cork, had been in discussions with Bank of America over an intended strategic partnership in a proposed $12 million (€11.3 million) deal, which would have meant the company’s product replace the bank’s own internal account automation service.
At the High Court on Wednesday, Mr Justice Brian O’Moore appointed insolvency practitioners Ken Fennell and Andrew O’Leary, of Interpath Advisory Services, as provisional liquidators to the firm, on the grounds that it is insolvent and unable to pay its debts.
The court heard the Irish company is the parent of subsidiaries in the UK, USA and Singapore and employs 91 people.
It has been trading since 2016, but now has debts of more than €5.2 million.
The company provides software platforms allowing banks and corporate customers that are connected via a blockchain-distributed ledger network to make transactions.
A blockchain is essentially a digital ledger of transactions that is duplicated and distributed across the entire network of computer systems on that linkage. It is a system to record information in a way that makes it extremely difficult to change, hack or cheat.
The company claims it invested significant resources, particularly in recent months, on the development of a product that would have potentially involved a Bank of America investment.
The product in question is designed to reduce customer costs, risk and provides full transparency for all parties conducting a transaction, the court heard.
The company claims a proposed partnership with Bank of America got into difficulties last November following the high-profile collapse of one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, FTX Trading Ltd, and a decision by the bank not to invest in blockchain-related businesses.
While further discussions took place with the bank in the latter months of 2022 and early 2023, the company claims that in late January the bank said it was not proceeding with the partnership.
The company claims it made efforts to raise further investment to cover the bank’s withdrawal, but this did not prove possible.
Represented by Stephen Byrne, the company petitioned the court for the appointment of provisional liquidators. Counsel said the provisional liquidators were required to sell and preserve the company’s core assets and to retain and pay core staff.
Counsel said that as well as helping to sell the company’s business, which counsel said retains value, the appointment of the proposed liquidators would also help the firm to retain its existing customers using its network and associated platforms.
The company has liabilities of more than €5.2 million and its current liabilities exceed the total value of assets by €2.5 million.
The biggest creditor is Revenue, which is owed €2.6 million.
The company had formerly been known as TradeIX Limited but changed its name in 2021.
As a result of its insolvency, a majority of the company’s shareholders passed a resolution to seek to have it wound up.
Mr Justice O’Moore was satisfied to appoint provisional liquidators.
They were granted powers including to advertise and negotiate the sale of any part of the company or its core business assets.
They were also granted the power to negotiate with the company’s employees, access and possession of all the firm’s books and records, control of all the company’s property and assets, and the power to carry on the firm’s business.
The judge noted that, despite its difficulties, value remains in the company’s assets and business.
While the company has an international dimension, the judge added that he was further satisfied that its main centre of interest is in Ireland.
The judge adjourned the matter to a date in early March.