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News and photo agencies, circulation services and media planners among ‘smaller’ debtors following City AM collapse

City AM/LinkedIn

Reuters and PA, Getty Images, newspaper circulation auditor ABC and Stoke delivery specialist Newsteam, and Havas’ media planning operation were among the ‘lesser’ debtors of collapsed London freesheet City AM, which was taken over by Matt Moulding’s THG last month.

The detailed figures are revealed in filings from administrator BDO logged with Companies House.

As Prolific North previously reported The London newspaper, which was picked up by THG in a pre-packed administration, owed by far its biggest debt to HMRC – almost £1m relating to VAT, PAYE and employees’ national insurance. Next biggest debtor was Metro Bank, with around £750,000 owed.

Among the ‘smaller’ debtors detailed, Stoke-based newspaper delivery specialist Newsteam was owed £102k, photo agency Getty was almost £38,000, and ABC had just over £24,000 outstanding. News agencies PA and Reuters were owed almost £27k and just under £16.5k respectively, and Media Planning Limited, trading as Havas Media, had just short of £8.4k owing.

Other significant debtors included upmarket hotels and restaurants. The paper owed more than £100,000 to the Leonardo Royal Hotel in St Paul’s, where it has held awards ceremonies, while Boisdale, a Scottish-themed fine dining restaurant and whisky bar where City AM has previously held its own Christmas party as well as a cryptocurreny Summer Solstice party in June, was owed £36,000. London event caterer Party Ingredients Catering Services Ltd could also take a big hit, with almost £50k owed.

THG itself was also listed as a debtor having fronted up over £90k to cover staff salaries – excluding directors – in July.

The newspaper was initially hit badly by Covid lockdowns, which slashed advertising revenues and hit its readership of London commuters., forcing it to stop printing during the 2020 lockdown.

The paper’s revenues rose to £6.1m last year as life returned to normal, but it still lost £584,000 while its debts grew to around £2.5m.

Bosses appeared to have secured an agreement in principle with an investor early this year to receive additional funding in exchange for a 25pc stake in the business, but when that fell through it was picked up by ecommerce and tech services giant THG.

THG’s takeover of City AM has raised eyebrows in the industry – Moulding is a well-known critic of sections of the UK business media who is not afraid to make his opinions known.

He has spoken of his desire for City AM to “be a cheerleader for both the UK and businesses alike, and don’t get dragged over to the dark side.”

Despite the cheerleading calls, sources close to the business have insisted that City AM will remain editorially independent, while highlighting the potential commercial opportunities for THG. THG also plans to use its digital expertise to launch a new app for the title, due next month.

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