The phones have been white hot with the janglings of our glorious profession this morning, following Billy's report on future Pre-Pack Pool regulation earlier today. As luck would have it, David Kerr popped into the NTI newsroom at about 10.00am, on his way to Wetherspoon's, and he caught up with Blade at reception, who enticed him upstairs, using all of shum’s (see earlier report) wiles, for the first 'exclusive' of shum’s tenure.
David, former CEO of the IPA and current restructuring adviser to the stars, has a skipful of views on the Pool and what follows is an account of their conversation.
Blade: Thanks for coming in, Dave. Can I call you Dave?
David: I'm David.
Blade: I'm Blade. Thanks Dave. Nice hair, is it all yours?
David: I'm here to talk about the Insolvency Service plans to tighten up on regulation of the pre-pack process – in particular, where the sale of a business is to a connected person.
Blade: I'll take that as a 'no'. I understand that intervention by the existing Pre-Pack Pool is voluntary, in that Insolvency Practitioners had to not only agree to pass cases to it, but pay for the privilege. That's nuts, right?
David: The existing voluntary use of the Pre-Pack Pool is to be replaced (as soon as parliamentary time allows) with a statutory requirement for a prospective connected purchaser to obtain an ‘independent’ opinion before such a sale can proceed, unless the creditors have approved the deal.
Blade: 'Statutory requirement'? That means what was once voluntary (hence 'nuts') is now to become mandatory. Are the Pool going to to be ditched then, and replaced by these 'opinion providers'?
David: The opinion provider will need to say that the case has been made for the transaction to proceed. The Pool can continue to be a source of opinions, but it will not be the sole provider.
Blade: One of my previous boyfriends was full of opinions, is this the kind of person who can be invited to have a go?
David: Interestingly, while there are some restrictions on who can provide an opinion, the Government’s draft regulations on the qualifications of the opinion provider simply state that the provider must self-declare that (s)/he believe themselves to have the requisite knowledge and experience to do the job! (Mr Kerr's punctuation.) Also, rather oddly, the Service’s report on its review of pre-packs expressly states that the purchaser can obtain more than one opinion. One possible (but presumably unintended) consequence of this might be to give purchasers a licence to shop around for a positive opinion.
Blade: So Hot Stuff could be asked to give a view, then?
David: Hot stuff?
Blade: Thank you, but try and focus. Shop around for an opinion? What will happen when the Daily Mail get hold of that? It sounds as if an IP can go where they want for an opinion and keep looking until they find one that fits.
David: I am sure that is not the intention, these will have to be suitably qualified peo ...
Blade: Richard asked me to ask you, 'Will this enhance creditor confidence in pre-pack sales to connected parties?'
David: The purchaser will commission an opinion and can pick the opinion provider. Although the provider must not be someone who has advised the parties in the previous twelve months.
Blade: But how independent will that be?
David: Whereas the Pool operates on an automated rota basis free of manipulation or undue influence, the purchaser does not choose the reviewer and cannot easily ignore or discard the opinion provided.
Blade: Those do not sound like the kind of measures that will encourage trust in the profession. Do they?
David: I couldn't possibly comment. M...
Blade: Why not? You know more about this than virtually anyone else, don't you?
David: It's not that. We need to see how these measures play out before we openly criticise them.
Blade: We are asking all of our interviewees about their views on crystals and how they can influence the future of personkind. What's your view about that, Dave?
David: I have no idea what you are talking about.
Blade: IS it all your own hair? Dave ... DAVE??