Exposed: New owners of AssetCo, Letter to Chair of LFEPA
I am writing to you to express serious concerns over the recent takeover of AssetCo for £2 by AB&A Investments Limited including the purchase of the London Fire Brigade’s fleet of fire engines.
In his briefing last week, the Fire Commissioner said: “This sale has no direct impact upon the Authority’s vehicle and equipment contract which will continue to be managed and operated by Asset Co London which will have the same internal management structure”, and that he “will also now be discussing the position in more detail with the Chairman of AB&A, Sir Aubrey Brocklebank.”
I hope the Commissioner’s first statement turns out to be the case, but I have grave doubts if this will be so. I see us facing another fiasco similar to G4S whose private sector failure caused such embarrassment for the government during the Olympics and led to the last minute calling in of our overstretched armed forces. We face potentially an even worse scenario, as I understand the situation: because the fire brigade fleet belongs to AssetCo, there is at least a theoretical risk of asset stripping.
The reason I raise this concern is that I have been researching this company and its chairman’s track record. However, the company does not have a track record as the following information from Companies House shows:
Name & Registered Office:
AB AND A INVESTMENTS LIMITED
21 NEEDHAM ROAD
Company No. 08141341
Date of Incorporation: 12/07/2012
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Company Type: Private Limited Company
Nature of Business (SIC):
Accounting Reference Date: 31/07
Last Accounts Made Up To: (NO ACCOUNTS FILED)
Next Accounts Due: 12/04/2014
Last Return Made Up To:
Next Return Due: 09/08/2013
The company has been operating for only a month, has not filed any accounts and as a private limited company has no obligation to provide full details to the Stock Exchange or to LFEPA.
The Chairman of AB & A Investments is Sir Aubrey Thomas Brocklebank, Bt. He has been the Director of 69 Companies. 5 of which have been in liquidation, and 38 have been dissolved:
Of the companies of which he is still a Director, 3 are in liquidation. No other directors are listed whatsoever.
I understand that Sir Aubrey is chairman of bingo hall owner Top Ten Holdings and that his only obviously apparent connection with a vehicle fleet is that he owns his own 2CV racing team, “Twin Snails”. I also understand that he sits on eight venture capital trust boards, with links to stockbrokers Close Brothers and Hargreave Hale.
I ask you, whether it is appropriate for a private limited company with no track record
and just one named director to be wholly responsible for the provision and maintenance of the fire brigade fleet and for the emergency fire crew cover contract?
What guarantee is there, that the assets of AssetCo, including the fire appliance fleet, and maintenance workshops will not be asset stripped, in view of the extensive liabilities of AssetCo as set out in the Stock Exchange notice?
What assurances have been received as to the future intentions of this company, as to the honouring of the AssetCo contract, bearing in mind the past poor performance record of AssetCo?
What assurances have been given as to the future replacement of the fleet, in
accordance with the AssetCo contract?
What efforts have been made to conduct due diligence on the record and other business interests of the director of the new company?
What share capital does the new company have and how much has been issued?
What security screening and checks have been conducted on the new company and its director, in view of the sensitive nature of some of the Brigade’s activities?
Andrew Dismore AM