Dublin internet firm SkillPages has €24m in losses

Firm has built up a network of 25 million registered users in more than 160 countries

The High Court was told that Irish internet company SkillPages, which is for sale, has built up a network of 25 million registered users in more than 160 countries.  Photograph: Graham Hughes/Photocall

The High Court was told that Irish internet company SkillPages, which is for sale, has built up a network of 25 million registered users in more than 160 countries. Photograph: Graham Hughes/Photocall

 

An Irish internet company linking skilled service providers with consumers has built up a network of 25 million registered users in more than 160 countries – and is for sale, the High Court was told on Tuesday.

Barrister Rossa Fanning said that while losses of €24 million since 2008 seemed enormous for Co Dublin-based SkillPages Holdings, it was normal in the industry for start-ups to consume large amounts of funding at the outset before sometimes becoming hugely successful.

Ms Justice Carmel Stewart, who appointed a provisional liquidator to the company, heard it employed 36 staff in Ireland and that investors included Paul McGuinness of Principle Management Ltd, Anthony Smurfit of Boulevard De Suisse, Monaco, Enterprise Ireland, and Goodbody and Davy stockbrokers on behalf of clients.

Trading concern

Mr Fanning said the company’s directors – Jill Mountjoy, Windsor Terrace, Dun Laoghaire; Barry Joseph Smyth, Woodbrook House, New Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow; Laura Shesgreen, company chief executive, of Park Lane, Sandymount, Dublin, and Dan Flinter of Lakelands Avenue, Kilmacud, Co Dublin – believed SkillPages could be sold as a trading concern. Mr Flinter is also the chairman of The Irish Times Ltd.

Mr Fanning said that while it may result in the loss of jobs, it was imperative the company continued to trade during the sale process and the directors were seeking the appointment of Eamonn Richardson of KPMG as provisional liquidator pending return of the application to the High Court on January 26th.

Mr Fanning told the court the company provided software and internet-based services and connected service providers with particular skills to consumers in need of those services. He said the core assets of the company were its registered user network, its technology and its employees whose knowledge of company systems and technologies were an essential component of its assets.

He said the company had raised €15.75 million in equity and €8 million through the issuance of a loan note in 2013. Aggregated losses up to 2013 were about €18.55 million but now stood at €24 million.

Continued losses

Mr Fanning said that in May of this year investors decided they did not wish to commit substantial capital to fund the company’s standalone business plan further. The company continued to incur losses in 2014 but additional measures had been taken to allow it to trade and it had reduced operational costs.

The exploration of alternative funding means had failed. The board of directors resolved that in the absence of new and additional funding that would be required to progress a sale of the business to completion, a petition for the winding up of the company by the High Court should be presented.

Judge Stewart granted Mr Richardson, who is one of the two joint special liquidators of IBRC, powers to continue running the company in the hope of agreeing a sale until further court order on January 26th.