Sky News says the online estate agency Emoov is preparing to call in administrators in a last-ditch attempt to salvage its future.
Sky - which has had a number of Emoov exclusives in the past 12 months - says the agency is on the verge of appointing James Cowper Kreston, an accounting firm, to act as administrators.
Quoting unnamed sources, Sky says a pre-pack administration option - allowing a buyer to acquire some of the firm’s assets without having to carry the burden of its debts - could be announced tomorrow.
The Sky story continues: “The identity of the buyer of any of Emoov's assets is unclear, although Russell Quirk, the company's founder and chief executive, is said to be determined to continue to lead the business.
“An insolvency process could leave prominent investors including Richard Desmond, the former Daily Express and Channel 5 owner, nursing seven-figure losses. Channel 4's Commercial Growth Fund, which strikes media-for-equity deals with advertisers, is also a shareholder in Emoov.
“Sky News revealed last month that Mr Quirk had hired Arden Partners, the City broker, to find a buyer for the business, although it is thought that few parties were prepared to consider a solvent takeover.”
In recent weeks Estate Agent Today has been told by a company insider that Emoov was willing to accept “far, far less” than the rumoured £100m spent on its acquisition of smaller online agencies Tepilo and Urban just six months ago.
Quirk himself has been outspoken about the apparent financial worth of the Emoov purpose-built technical platform, and has also emphasised that he himself should be allowed to remain at the head of any re-formed agency.
Earlier today we reported that Quirk had set up a private company; some analysts have suggested this may have been a protective move by Quirk ahead of the collapse of Emoov.
Quirk has declined to comment on the Sky story.