Scandinavia: Swedish Congrex Files for BankruptcyOctober 2, 2013 By: Meetings International
Congrex filed a bankruptcy petition on Thursday last week, the Stockholm District Court approved last Friday.
The trustee is investigating the possibility to transfer part or all of the operations in another direction, and discussions have begun with interested parties. The administrator can simultaneously go through Congrex Sweden's economy in order to give the creditors more information about the situation.
Michael Bleeker is CFO at Uppsala Concert and Congress, where Congrex, just weeks ago, had three medical congresses with thousands of delegates.
"It is true that we have had three medical congresses organized by Congrex. Whether it ends after the bankruptcy is too early to say, but it's definitely not a case of some ten million crowns," said Michael Bleeker in an email.
"We have had poor profitability in recent years and it worsened during the year, so the board felt that bankruptcy was the only option," said Annika Benson, communications manager for Congrex Sweden to the newspaper Besöksliv.
"We have a large number of customers, of course, it affects them in one way or another. We discuss different solutions with them."
Annika Benson cannot answer how much debt the company has at the moment.
The bankruptcy trustee is Odd Swarting at the law firm Setterwalls. Congrex is an international company and one of the major players in the market as an organizer of congresses, conferences and meetings. It's just the Swedish company that went bankrupt .
The magazine Meetings International has sought acting CEO Stephanie Hellstedt for comment , but she has not returned. According to the magazine's publisher Roger Kellerman, with over 30 years experience in the meetings industry, Congrex is by far the largest professional congress organizer, PCO, in Scandinavia.
"The trustee must do everything to find buyers for parts of the company, as he has apparently chosen not to recontruct. There are lots of important skills that might otherwise be lost. Sweden need this kind of player," said Kellerman.
He believes it is a big blow to the Swedish meetings industry as a whole.
"There is a risk that we lose international congresses, but it must not be so. I assume that the administrator can quickly find more PCOs that at the same time have the opportunity to be part of a major restructuring of the Swedish market for conventions. But it is a clear risk that hotels and meeting facilities are losing money in the bankruptcy."
Roger Kellerman said that a company with a turnover of several hundred million must have some unpaid debts. He also notes that Stephanie Hellstedt became the new acting president after Lena Fletcher as late as June.
And barely a month ago, it became clear that Congrex signed a framework agreement with Chalmers for all meetings bookings.
Resia, which in 2013 has begun to focus increasingly on becoming a great professional congress organizer, PCO, and MCI, which is reported to have a good portfolio of conferences in 2014, has recently gone through a change process.
Malmö Convention Bureau, which looks good with bookings for 2014 and Meet Again, one of the nation's fastest growing PCOs , is probably already in the starting blocks to offer Congrex's stranded customers quick help back into the planning process.
Photo: Odd Swarting, attorney at Setterwalls, is in charge of Congrex's bankruptcy.