Pollen owes £75m to creditors with only one potential buyer in sight (report)

Pollen Co-Founder and CEO Callum Negus-Fancey

Pollen, a UK-based travel and music-related experiences company, is facing £75 million ($85 million) in debts owed to creditors as it struggles to carry out its restructuring with no other interest except for one potential buyer.

Details of Pollen’s debts were published by software engineering industry-focused The Pragmatic Engineer on Friday (October 21), which cited a report sent by Pollen’s administrators to creditors.

The report revealed that the company received a $2.5 million buyout offer on August 9, just a day before it went into administration. The offer was reportedly turned down by the company’s directors following discussions with secured creditor, Global Growth Capital.

New York-headquartered restructuring and insolvency specialist Kroll, tapped to administer Pollen’s restructuring, sent out a teaser document to 154 potential buyers, and while 14 indicated interest in the company — including Pollen’s technology stack, the Pollen brand and shares in Abode Records Ltd. — none of them proceeded to make an offer, The Pragmatic Engineer said.

The original buyer that made the $2.5 million offer then lowered its bid to $500 million on September 14 and proposed to include Just Experiences Ltd., doing business as Trippr, in the acquisition. Two weeks later, the undisclosed buyer reportedly halved its most recent bid to $250,000.

A sale of Pollen could happen soon with no other interest except for one party, unless that potential buyer drops out from its bid, the report said.

The £75 million debt that Pollen owes to creditors covered the following, according to The Pragmatic Engineer:

  • £18.6 million owed to secured creditor, Global Growth Capital
  • £607,000 to preferential creditors, including employees’ claims of pay in arrears, holiday pay and pension arrears
  • £59.4 million owned to unsecured creditors, consisting of vendors and funds, employees pensions, HSBC overdraft, HSBC bank loan, shareholders with claims, convertible loans, American Express, and employee expenses

The report further listed software companies that have yet to receive payments from Pollen including project management firm Monday.com, messaging platform Twilio, cloud company AWS, Zoom, Datadog, Vercel, Mixpanel, User Testing, Retool, Cobalt Labs, Queue-it, Snowflake, Airtable, Falcon.io, Grammarly, Salesforce and Trustpilot.

Pollen also had unpaid fees to recruitment partners like Deep Abacus and Velocity Global, and other service providers including software delivery firm Thoughtworks, in which it owes £1.1 million, auditing firm PwC, travel services provider Concur, and brand partnerships firm Graphite Media, among many others.

The filings revealed how Pollen had managed to raise $150 million in a series C funding round in April despite racking up debts. The company’s troubles have emerged after it laid off more than 150 employees in May, just a month after the fundraising that attracted money from investors Kindred, Northzone, Sienna Capital, Backed and Draper Spirit.

In a statement back in August when it announced its restructuring with Kroll, the company’s parent Streetteam Software, blamed its troubles on the “knock-on effects of COVID-19 over the last two years, which decimated much of the travel sector.”

Streetteam also attributed its collapse to the tech stock crash and consumer uncertainty amid global economic conditions.Music Business Worldwide

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