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Publishers lost over 6m following Red Ant collapse

Wed 17 Mar 2010 9:47am GMT / 5:47am EDT / 2:47am PDT
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A year on from the collapse of distributor Red Ant, legal documents have revealed that game companies have lost almost AUS $10 million (6m / $9.1m) to the Australian company, with former staff still AUS $250,000 out of pocket.

It has also been revealed that before the company went into administration, Red Ant loaned more than AUS $2 million (1.2m / $1.8m) to companies and trust funds including Mad4Games Australia, Green Monkey and White Commerce Trust all owned by Red Ant managing director Julian White, who also received a AUS 700,000 loan from Red Ant.

In a report published on GamesIndustry.biz today, White said that all loans to companies that he was a director of were for business purposes only, and the companies were now in debt to the bank. White's explanation that the personal AUS $700,000 loan was repaid "by dividends" does not tally with the sum registering as outstanding on legal documents.

The distributor worked with a number of high-profile games companies in Australia and New Zealand, but after initial success had been hit hard by exchange rates during the global financial crisis in 2008, with the company going into administration in January last year.

According to a Report as to Affairs, Fallout publisher Bethesda is still owed over AUS $2.8 million (1.72m / $2.63m), and defunct publisher Midway lost AUS $1.9 million (1.16m / $1.76m).

Capcom, publisher of Street Fighter and Resident Evil, was stung with AUS $1.1 million in unpaid debt (682,000 / $1.03m) , while 505 Games which still works with White's game consultancy Tuff Kat in Australia was owed AUS $220,049 (133,000 / $202,000).

The past 24 months has seen significant consolidation and closures in the distribution business, with Woolworth's EUK business, and Pinnacle Entertainment going bust, and Gem buying out troubled firm Trilogy Logistics.

The full investigation into Red Ant and Julian White can be read here.

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