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GoodBox Exits Administration After Court Backs Restructuring Plan

GoodBox is back on its feet following a landmark court ruling in Leeds that backed a restructuring plan to rescue the firm from administration.

Co-founded in 2016 by Tibor Barna, Andrew O’Brien and Francesca Hodgson, fintech Goodbox provides charities with a range of digital fundraising tools.

Charities have raised almost £20million via GoodBox technology, with 3.2 million donations processed and a peak average donation of £11.60.

In the past six years GoodBox has secured 2,200 not-for-profit clients including the Natural History Museum, The Church of England, British Red Cross and the Science Museum.

Running into problems

In January 2021, GoodBox raised £9million in a convertible loan deal through the UK government’s Future Fund scheme, operated by the British Business Bank. According to The Financial Times, half of the money came from a private investor – a company called Q Invest Limited – while the remaining £4.5million came from the taxpayer.

At the time, GoodBox announced that the funding would “fuel its mission to transform the global non-profit sector by using technology to better connect donors with the causes they care about”.

However, in June 2022, Goodbox entered administration. A petition for the administration was granted by the courts to NGI Systems, a tech consultancy and key supplier of GoodBox since its inception and controlled by Barna. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) allowed GoodBox to continue trading while in administration but not to take on new clients.

Jeremy Frost and Patrick Wadsted of Frost Group Ltd were appointed joint administrators. The administrators suggested “internal disputes at board and shareholder level” had “stalled the company’s ability to secure the additional investment needed to support the business”.

In a statement, the administrators stated: “Continuous pressure from creditors, as well as a well-publicised intra-board dispute that made further investment impossible, has resulted in British payment startup, The GoodBox Co Labs Ltd (In Administration), succumbing to administration.”

Court ruling

NGI Systems proposed a Part 26A Restructuring Plan – the first of its kind outside of London – that would see GoodBox’s debt burden of more than £10millon slashed by more than 90 per cent and rescue the company from administration. It would also a save £4.5million of taxpayer investment.

This plan has now been sanctioned by a judge in a landmark hearing at Leeds High Court on 16 January.

Barna has welcomed the decision of the court, saying: “We are pleased that the court has again ruled in our favour, confirming our belief that the rescue plan backed by 20 new investors is the best route forward for the company and its clients, under the control of the new independent board of directors.”

A surprise to some

However, the Court’s decision was “certainly a surprise to the Administrators”, Frost Group admitted.

The company said in a statement that it since its appointment as administrators, it had “pursued multiple avenues” in attempts to “save the brand’s future whilst protecting the various charities, religious organisations and museums reliant on the company’s services for their donations”.

It said it was proud of its achievements as over “£4.5million of donations have been processed in the course of their appointment”.

However, it did not expect the Part 26a scheme judgement that formally brings the administration to a close, seeing it as an “extremely unlikely result” so much so that it “had conducted a sales process”.

Goodbox administration
Jeremy Frost, director, Frost Group Ltd

“We send our best wishes to the team at GoodBox Co and are hopeful that they can get back to being the essential part of the charitable industry that it once was,” said Jeremy Frost.

He says that despite the company’s plans for a funded future, “considerable uncertainty” remains along with many unanswered questions.

“It is very sad that these uncertainties, brought into sharp focus whilst acting as administrator were not addressed in the scheme, a position so serious that it did not allow us to take anything other than a neutral stance.”

Next steps

According to NGI Systems, it has secured the financial support of a group of angel investors, some of who
are existing shareholders of GoodBox. These angel investors will now become majority owners of GoodBox, with NGI Systems acting as a facilitator and minority stakeholder.

Court filings reveal that following the rescue plan, Canadian donation solutions provider TipTap has expressed its intention to refinance GoodBox with £1.5million as part of a partnership bringing its product to the UK and allowing GoodBox products to enter the US market.

NGI Systems also suggests there are also merger discussions ongoing between GoodBox and online charity shop GiveAsYouLive.com, which is backed by Geoff Squire, who established tech giant Oracle in the UK. Squire is also a backer of the now sanctioned rescue plan for GoodBox.

Barna expressed disappointment that the Future Fund “acted in a manner that represented neither the interest of the taxpayer nor the mission and mandate of the Future Fund, which was to support the companies they invested in to save them from collapse during Covid.”

Updated article: this article was amended on 02/02/23 to include additional information on the restructuring plan and additional comment from Tibor Barna 

Author

  • Tyler is a fintech journalist with specific interests in online banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

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