UPDATE: Trading in Vantis shares on the AIM has been suspended following news that the firm has been removed as joint liquidators of Stanford International Bank. (See the comment below)
Vantis partners Nigel Hamilton-Smith and Peter Wastell have been removed as joint liquidators of Stanford International Bank by the High Court of Antigua.
The firm said it intends to appeal against the decision to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal.
Vantis share prices took a significant dip recently after Ernst & Young issued a going concern warning in the group’s six month interim report. Fees not yet recovered in respect of the group’s work on the insolvency of Stanford International Bank (SIB) were cited as a major contributing factor.
The Swiss authorities recently agreed to pass control of SIB’s assets in Switzerland to the liquidators – totalling more than $100m – but the recovery of this amount now hangs in the balance.
Should the case be transferred to a new liquidator, Vantis’ fees could be challenged, as could its priority in payment – both of which could represent a major setback for the firm.
The group recently announced that it was looking at ways to reduce the debt in the firm's balance sheet.
According to a recent article in the Times, the firm owes more than £50m to a consortium of banks including Lloyds TSB, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland.
Vantis chief executive Paul Jackson told the Times that the group was holding discussions with potential investors about selling part of the firm. “Negotiations with both investors and the company’s banks are at an early stage and there can be no certainty as to the impact on current shareholders or the terms of any agreement which may be reached,” said Jackson.