Freelance fears as Business Age gets new owner

Business Age: NUJ’s serious concern

Business Age has another new owner – the magazine’s second in the space of only four months – prompting serious concern at the NUJ that freelances will be left unpaid.

The licence for the title has been taken over from the Banter Media Group by MPMG, set up by former merchant bankers Daryl Keys and Andrew Derrick. MPMG has no legal requirement to pay Banter’s debts.

It is the second time this year that journalists have been left out of pocket after Business Age’s previous owner, Priori Publishing, went into liquidation in May, owing freelances, the Inland Revenue and around £100,000 to HM Customs.

Jon Toner, freelance organiser at the NUJ, said some journalists were owed hundreds of pounds by Banter. "We have been approached by half a dozen members and we will be contacting the new company to try to reach an agreement this week," he said.

Keys said Banter’s chief executive, Chris Butt, was a "minor shareholder" in the new company and that he had known him for around seven years.

He added: "This is a completely new company. There is no association with the old company. All we have done is spot an opportunity. What happened before is none of my business.

"If you bought a house and found the previous owners hadn’t paid their mortgage, you wouldn’t pay it for them, would you? This is a new business and we have no undertaking or legal requirement to pay for anything that has gone on in the past."

By Ruth Addicott

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