ANALYSIS & OPINION

Swets Information Services B.V. is declared bankrupt

Swets Information Services has filed for bankruptcy. Swets & Zeitlinger Group BV was granted a suspension of payment by the court in Amsterdam on 19 September but the management team, together with the appointed administrator, Mr J.L.M. Groenewegen have been unable to secure concrete alternatives to sell the business as a whole.

Groenewegen has now been appointed as trustee and the court of Amsterdam has also granted a two-month cooling off period. The company has approximately 110 employees in the Netherlands and the employment contracts with these employees will be terminated.

The company’s 2013 annual report, which was filed in August 2014, gave an indication of the problems that have faced the company.

‘2013 was a turbulent year for Swets. It has become clear that the intended transformation of Swets requires more capital and scale than is currently available,’ said the report. As a result, the shareholders of Swets Group, along with the lenders, decided to put all shares of Royal Swets & Zeitlinger Holding N.V. up for sale. The plan was to have a competitive auction process and a planned sale in Q3 2014.

The report says that many of the problems result from the continued move from print to digital. ‘Commissions on digital products are lower than print subscriptions with the average gross profit margin for print subscriptions at 10.5 per cent to digital at an average gross margin of 4.4 per cent…. Digital formats have also facilitated large publishers to establish direct customer relationships, resulting in partial customer losses,’ said the report.

Currently, the bankruptcy is only related to Swets Information Services B.V. in the Netherlands. If and in which way the bankruptcy of Swets Information Services B.V. will affect its branches in other countries is being investigated by the trustee at this moment.

The company says that, in the coming days the trustee and the management team will continue discussions with organisations and individuals who may be interested in purchasing parts of the business. They say that they will be making every effort to try to preserve employment, where possible. Alternative solutions for the subsidiaries, or branches, of Swets Information Services B.V., which could see them continue activities on a stand alone basis, will also be investigated.

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Analysis and opinion
Analysis and opinion