Pirate theme unconfirmed.
The new owners of Ince celebrated its latest reincarnation by flying staff to London from the firm's remaining international offices for a party which climaxed with a personalised nightclub welcome.
Lawyers from Hong Kong, Shanghai, Dubai, Greece, Cyprus and Glasgow landed last week for the shindig which began in Kensington Gardens and ended behind the VIP ropes in Mayfair.
A spokesperson described the party to RollOnFriday as a “relaxed get together” which capped "a long day of meetings”, although sadly skeleton crews missed out: “Whilst everyone was invited, not everyone can make it as we do need to keep the various offices manned”.
According to a source the party ended up at the Reign nightclub where staff enjoyed swigging champagne, “women in G-strings”, and a personalised welcome (see pic below) from the Axiom Ince CEO, who arranged the celebration.
Ince in da cluuuub!
The London Reign Show Club bills itself as “a world of opulence and sensuous glamour” and “the jewel in the Mayfair crown”, where a table for ten is understood to cost a minimum of £1,000.
It’s a far cry from the travails of old Ince, which was snapped up in a pre-pack administration deal in May for £2.2m by AxiomDWFM following a chaotic period which encompassed restaurant rudeness, auditing disasters, and share suspensions.
Under the terms of the purchase, Ince & Co is now a separate operating entity of AxiomDWFM, and managed independently as a branded firm.
So far, incoming Ince & Co chief executive Donald Brown and managing partner Jennette Newman remain in place.
Brown distanced himself from his firm’s collapse when the purchase was announced, commenting that, “After taking over the management of the PLC group, it quickly became apparent that we needed to address a series of poorly structured and executed transactions and expansions”.
When Ince first fell into administration in 2018 it was acquired by Gordon Dadds as part of an expansion strategy which relied heavily on pre-pack deals, drawing criticism from some quarters for the way in which creditors were left in the cold.
This time around the firm went bust owing hundreds of creditors a total of £41m. As a secured creditor, Investec Bank may see a return of its £17m “subject to costs”, while HMRC might receive 4.6p in the pound in respect of its £15m debt.
But the other unsecured creditors will receive nothing. They include law firms, owed amounts ranging from the piddling (Weightmans: £240, Mills & Reeve: £300, Forsters: £1k, Blake Morgan: £2.5k, BDB Pitmans: £2.3k), to the enough-to-irk-the-matter-partner-concerned (NRF: £8.4k, Penningtons Manches: £8k, RPC: £7.7k, Pinsent Masons: £21.7k, and £6.6k to shipping insurance rival HFW, which can’t help but seem like a parting shot from Ince as it sunk beneath the waves), to the stinging £181k owed to WFW.
However, barristers were amongst the worst impacted, particularly since they were owed as individuals. Among those whose champagne glasses might have cracked in their hands had they attended Reign were six tenants at 7 Kings Bench Walk, who lost more than £373k between them, seven 20 Essex Court barristers who were left out of pocket to the tune of £354k, and a Selborne Chambers KC whose £124k invoice will remain unpaid.
Other notable creditors included Brighton & Hove Football Club (£1k), taxpayers in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (£612k), the London Stock Exchange, where Ince provided such entertainment to investors and onlookers alike (£34k), the SRA (£1.4k), and, fittingly, a company called Perfect Storm (£8k). Ince & Co’s own General Counsel, Philip Langford, appears to be down £185k having been employed by Ince on a consultancy basis.
AxiomDWFM was created two years ago when Axiom Stone merged with DWFM Beckman, and is expanding rapidly under Managing Partner Pragnesh Modhwadia.
As broken by ROF, AxiomDWFM also bought defendant personal injury firm Plexus in a pre-pack administration deal a fortnight ago.
Plexus’s administrator, Interpath, was keen to emphasise that the sale enabled it to preserve hundreds of jobs which may otherwise have been lost, in a defence of the pre-pack process.
“Right from their initial expression of interest, Axiom were determined and committed to acquiring the practice, safeguarding jobs and importantly, helping to protect client interests”, it said.
A Plexus source complained to ROF that staff who opted not to TUPE over to AxiomDWFM were “treated appallingly” by the old Plexus regime.
“My team leader has been called a 'distracting influence', and blamed for her team members making their own decisions to leave. We have also been ignored, with the partners having chats and catch ups with staff who will remain after the transfer, but not with us. It is unacceptable how they are treating us”, said the insider. But that was old Plexus: remaining staff should expect a custom-made evening at The Box in due course.