Codemasters in bogus wind-up scare

Codemasters in bogus wind-up scare

By Rob Crossley

January 15th 2010 at 12:42PM

Threat to close the Dirt 2 studio was revealed to be an HMRC error

Longstanding British studio Codemasters saw in the New Year in a most unfortunate manner as HM Revenue & Customs served an erroneous petition to wind-up the business.

On face value that meant the studio would face going into administration, receivership or liquidation, with Codemasters’ banks under threat of being frozen.

However it soon emerged that the HMRC wind-up petition was issued by mistake.

A winding-up petition is a court application to terminate a company’s business. If the High Court deems the petition reasonable, a copy of the petition is served on the company and, once advertised, the firm’s other creditors can join the proceedings.

In Codemasters’ case, the proceedings got to the stage where it had been advertised, when on December 31 a petition emerged in The London Gazette.

This immediately suggested that the writing was on the wall for the Dirt 2 studio, yet just six days later the wind-up petition had mysteriously been removed.

An explanation into the bizarre series of events was offered by a Codemasters spokesperson, who told regional newspaper The Birmingham Post that the ads were issued as a result of an error by HMRC.

It had emerged that two other firms registered at Codemasters’ Warwickshire address were the subject of a similar petition, also published on New Year’s Eve – making it either an implausible coincidence or, as suggested, a fairly spectacular mistake.

A rumour recently reported in The Financial Times claimed that Codemasters is preparing to float on the stock market as the recession begins to thaw.