Movehut, the commercial property search engine once heading for a £10m stock market flotation, has been sold for just £55,000 to an entity linked to the family of its founder Gary Stuart after falling into administration.
The listings website of properties for sale and rent ran into financial difficulty at the end of last year having failed to raise the finance it needed to keep going.
Movehut’s problems arose from difficulties securing paying clients and tough competition from new companies offering similar services, according to reports filed with Companies House by the administrator Lucas Johnson.
In its early days, the company - which was founded in 2011 - gave away services free of charge in an effort to build its brand.
The administrator instructed surveying firm Charterfields to sell the business at the end of last year.
After it approached other firms including Rightmove, Zoopla and CoStar, Movehut was sold to the highest bidder MH Digital Media, whose sole director is listed at Companies House as Harry Stuart. He is the son of the company’s largest shareholder prior to administration, Ruth Stuart, who lives in Monaco and is the wife of founder Gary Stuart. Movehut had numerous other small shareholders including the Conservative Party donor and former Barings banker Alexander Andrew Fraser and former Countdown co-host Carol Vorderman, who fronted a TV advert for Movehut in 2014.
Movehut had planned to list on the stock market. In 2013, the company appointed Cenkos to explore options to raise £10m for the website through a flotation. However, soon after news of the plans emerged, both Movehut’s chief executive Justin Bates and its chairman Harry Hill, the founder of Rightmove and former chief executive of Countrywide, left the business.
Movehut declined to comment on the sale of the business or the administration process, which is still ongoing. However, on Harry Stuart’s LinkedIn page, he says: “We are redeveloping the platform, marketing and product roadmap to perform better both technically and commercially in 2017.”
The latest report from the administrator, which was filed at the end of last month, showed that claims from unsecured creditors totalling £207,931 had been received and that it was unable to confirm whether funds would be available to pay them.
In addition, the report stated that the administrator was investigating “a significant number of areas of concern” raised by creditors and stakeholders.
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