Was a shipping firm, now expert in restructuring.
Trading in the listed firm’s shares was suspended in January after it was unable to produce its financial results, and after repeated delays it collapsed into administration.
Axiom DWFM wasn't put off by the messy accounting and snatched up the once-prestigious shipping firm.
In a press release sent out just before the bank holiday weekend, Ince announced that it had been bought in a pre-pack administration by the less well-known firm, which employs 250 people across 14 UK offices.
Axiom said that Ince will be run as a separate entity, and promised that “existing remuneration structures will be honoured”, and that other “material liabilities of the business will be funded”. It also confirmed that all Ince Gordon Dadds staff have been transferred into the newly-created Ince & Co under their previous terms of employment.
The deal enables the new owners to leave behind debts accumulated by Ince’s current management team in what the press release described as a “partner-driven transaction”, as opposed to a ‘necessity-driven capitulation’.
The current Ince leadership team is, so far, staying put. Donald Brown, who joined Ince from Arden Brokers and then replaced Adrian Biles as CEO last year, took the opportunity to point the finger of blame at the Biles era when the rescue deal was announced.
“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”, he said, glossing over the fact that one of the terrible decisions was the purchase of, erm, his business, which Ince bought for £10m and then sold seven months later for £1m.
Accepting the Oscar for Best Editing, Brown said, “We thank our clients and colleagues for their patience and above all, their continued loyalty and support after the uncertainty of recent months. We would also like to thank the non-executive directors and the Board of the PLC for its support through what has been a challenging situation and the Axiom DWFM team for their clear thinking and prompt action after they entered the process with the Group’s administrators. We look forward to moving forward, together".
Jennette Newman, Managing Partner of Ince Gordon Dadds and now Ince & Co, said that “Since joining the firm in December 2021, I have enjoyed enormously working with our teams and clients”, which, given the almost unbelievable parade of catastrophes the firm has stumbled through during that time and culminating in its implosion, suggests a serious sadomasochistic streak.
Pragnesh Modhwadia, the founder and Managing Partner of Axiom, described falling for Ince’s lustrous brand, just like Gordon Dadds before him. “When the opportunity came to acquire a business of the calibre of Ince & Co we were eager to engage and are delighted that the Ince & Co team shared our enthusiasm”, he said (translation: they had no choice).
An insider told RollOnfriday that the joke going round the office on Tuesday morning was that Ince partners "think the DWFM in Axiom DWFM stands for ‘Doesn't Want to Fire Me’”.
Another pessimist, burned by months of uncertainty, said that Ince had come out the other side "with the same dynamic duo in charge, and promises of a bright future, and increasing turnover from £48m per annum to £70m per annum, against the headwinds of recession, closure of offices in China, Singapore, Gibraltar and Germany, a passive endorsement from Cyprus, but nothing at all from either Greece or Dubai”.
However, ROF can recommend Ince's new owners wholeheartedly. Axiom’s chairman, Jonathan Metliss, was our Pandemic Lawyer of the Year in 2020 thanks to his splendid lockdown blog, which tracked his deterioration from jolly neighbour into a bearded wildman who got banned from the local One Stop.
Everyone with shares in Ince looks likely to take a bath over their investment. Ince PR declined to confirm the shares were worthless, but pointed ROF to the company's market announcement stating that it would be delisted on 13 May unless a new auditor was appointed. As such, ROF would like to apologise for advising readers, repeatedly, to buy Ince shares.