Taxpayer-backed events start-up Pollen hit with winding up petition

·2-min read
Justin Bieber has postponed all of his 2020 - Chelsea Lauren
Justin Bieber has postponed all of his 2020 - Chelsea Lauren

Taxpayer-backed events company Pollen is facing mounting pressure from creditors after being slapped with a winding up petition amid firesale talks.

The order was issued by creditors 101 Ways Limited, according to the website of HM Tribunals. A spokesman for Pollen said the debt had been settled. A court official said the petition had been withdrawn on Thursday.

Frustrated creditors have been circling the business. One agency complained on LinkedIn that it was owed £24,000 by Pollen. The Telegraph understands that dozens of suppliers have been seeking tens of thousands of pounds which have been unpaid for months.

Customers have flooded the company’s social media feeds demanding refunds for festivals that were cancelled months ago. On its website, Pollen has issued a “Pollen Promise” that cancelled experiences will be refunded.

It comes as Pollen, which had raised $250m (£208m) from venture capital investors, desperately hunts for a buyer.

A number of staff at the ticketing company, which has put on festivals that include artists such as Justin Bieber, have not been paid for July after the company missed payday last week, sources said.

Pollen laid off 200 people earlier in the year. Many have yet to receive redundancy payments.

Founded in 2012 by brothers Callum and Liam Negus-Fancey, Pollen was hit hard by the pandemic as it was forced to cancel dozens of gigs and festivals it had planned to host.

Pollen has enlisted Goldman Sachs in an effort to find a buyer and is working with restructurers Kroll.

In April, the company said it had raised $150m from investors including Sienna, Northzone and Molten Ventures. It has also received cash from the taxpayer’s Future Fund.

Internally, furious staff are said to be refusing to work until they have clarity on when they will be paid.

Last Friday, Pollen delayed its payroll for July. It had previously missed payments in June. Executives have repeatedly told staff the company is on the brink of securing a deal with a mystery “partner”.

Its chief executive, Callum Negus-Fancey, told staff this week: “I’m afraid I don’t have a meaningful update yet. I understand the impact this is having and I’m sorry I can’t share more.”

High Court records show that 101 Ways, a digital consultancy, filed a winding-up petition in June against Streetteam Software Ltd, the company behind Pollen. The petition was dismissed earlier this week.

Winding-up petitions can be filed if a creditor is owed £750 or more and claims that a company is unable to pay.

Court records also show that HM Revenue and Customs filed a similar petition against Streetteam in 2019. It was also dismissed.

Pollen lost £50m last year, according to its accounts.

A Pollen spokesman said: “We are doing everything we can to get the best outcome for all our stakeholders.”

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