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Prominent UK proxy firm meets creditors over unpaid taxes

Shareholder voting advisory firm faces being wound-up by tax authorities

Manifest Information Services, the UK-based shareholder voting advisory firm, which advises investors running more than £3trn of equity assets under advice, has met with creditors under UK insolvency rules to negotiate unpaid taxes and other debts amounting to £172,455 (€198,827).

The company owes almost £161,000 in unpaid VAT (Value Added Tax) and PAYE (pay-as-you-earn) employee tax contributions to the UK tax authorities, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). A further £11,500 is owed to Exchange Data International, a corporate actions data firm.

A meeting was held with creditor representatives on May 11, according to a legal company filing made by Manifest, at which the company’s request for a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) was approved. A CVA is an insolvency procedure that allows a company with debt problems or insolvent to reach a voluntary agreement with business creditors regarding repayment of all, or part of its corporate debts over an agreed period of time.

If the company – which numbers the Swedish AP buffer funds among its clients – breaches the arrangement, the creditors say they will “petition for a winding up order”. The document does not show how much Manifest owes in total.

It is possible for a company to “trade through” CVAs once they are over cash flow problems.The arrangement does not allow the company’s directors to pay a dividend or pay themselves any extra remuneration.

Sarah Wilson, Manifest’s chief executive is a prominent voice for shareholder governance and is regularly quoted in the press. She has been named as one of the 100 most influential women in finance.

Manifest is chaired by Michael Deakin, the former Chief Investment Officer at Insight Investment. It has a partnership with GES Investment Services and said in January that it was planning to enter the US market following the closure of its US partner Proxy Governance International.

According to abbreviated accounts filed in March 2010, Manifest had creditors to the tune of £386,309. Fixed assets were just under £1m – but this included a revaluation of its intellectual property from £141,079 to £750,000. It had £25,052 in cash in the bank – up from just £564 in 2009.