Shareholders stand to lose €32m as liquidator confirmed for Emuse

Dublin media technology company was a darling of the Celtic Tiger but is now bust

Equity investors in Dublin-based media technology company Emuse Corporation are set to lose close to €32 million after the appointment of a liquidator to the company was confirmed.

Joe Walsh of JW Accountants has been appointed as liquidator to Emuse, which was established by former college lecturer Patrick Rainsford in the late 1990s. Mr Rainsford's former business partner Peter Conlon, who in recent years was convicted of embezzlement in Switzerland, was also an early backer of Emuse, but he resigned from its board in 2014.

The company sold interactive software for advertising and its services were previously used in campaigns for Audi, Barbie and also for early series of the ITV production I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! During the Celtic Tiger years, it was regularly touted as a potential candidate for a stock market flotation, but the business has been heavily loss-making for many years.

Emuse was backed by a range of wealthy foreign investors, some of whom used a network of offshore companies to hold their shares in the company. Its shareholders once included former Bank of Ireland deputy governor and Tory peer George Magan, who was discharged from bankruptcy last month, according to the UK insolvency register.


Early investors

Other early investors included Andy Anson, the former Manchester United executive who is now the chief executive of the British Olympic Association. He served as a director of Emuse between 2011 and 2012.

Its backers currently include another British peer, Jonathan Marland, the former treasurer of the Tory party and one-time trade envoy for former British prime minister David Cameron. Mr Marland is now the chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council.

A trust linked to the late US businessman Michael R Forman also holds shares in Emuse. The identities of several other investors in the Irish business are obscured behind offshore trusts in the Channel Islands, Malta, Liechtenstein and Bermuda.

According to documents from the Paradise Papers leak in 2017 of documents relating to offshore accounts, Mr Rainsford is a director of a Malta-based shareholder of Emuse, Noster Ventures.

The most recently filed accounts in June for the business show it had raised €31.6 million from investors and it owed a further €16.7 million in loans to directors and other related parties, including €15.6 million to Noster Ventures. Emuse had accumulated losses of €53.7 million in its most recent accounts.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times