Nick Dargan: Success out of failure

Every cloud has a silver lining. And for Nick Dargan, uber administrator, business failures have only served to raise his corporate profile.

But the 43-year-old’s latest job could bring him face to face with someone who’s even more used to being in the public eye. Last week, the Deloitte administrator was called into embattled bus maker Mayflower as the company was forced to admit the discovery of a £20m black hole in its accounts.

Former prime minister John Major, a member of Mayflower’s audit committee until last year, may be forced to pay Dargan a visit as he investigates the work of directors at the company.

Major could be grilled as part of Dargan’s investigation, under the Company Directors Disqualification Act, to assess whether he can file a ‘clean’ or ‘adverse’ report to the DTI.

Mayflower is the latest in a growing list of high-profile ‘clients’ for Dargan. Last August, he was appointed as receiver to Powerhouse, the UK’s third-largest retailer of household electrical appliances, after it was placed in administrative receivership.

Spanning a 20-year career at Deloitte & Touche, Dargan’s exposure to high-profile reconstructions and insolvencies has taken him from the liquidation of BCCI in the early nineties, to administrator of Dolphin Telecommunications and budget airline Debonair Airways.

He was also receiver for Claims Direct and Alpha Telecom, not to mention some less glamourous business ventures, notably receiver of ABI Caravans, the largest caravan manufacturer in UK.

But it is in the world of football that Dargan has perhaps made his greatest mark, saving Leicester City football club from insolvency after selling the club in February last year to a consortium led by former player and face of Walkers’ crisps Gary Lineker.

The club went into administration in mid-October 2002 with £30m in debts.

Dargan had been in the throes of choosing a buyer and negotiating with potential investors since October.

At around the same time, Ipswich Town became another victim of the growing financial crisis in the game, announcing that it had ‘reluctantly’ filed for administration at the High Court. Fans must have breathed a collective sigh of relief when Dargan was called in to sort out the mess.

As head of Deloitte’s reorganisation services practice, his role spans support for underperforming businesses including restructuring, turnarounds and financial reviews. His team also advises businesses that are insolvent or close to insolvency as well as creditors, lenders and stakeholders.

A consumate professional, he never lets the fact he’s an avid Manchester United fan get in the way of the job, although he’s no doubt experienced his fair share of frustrations due to an underperforming team.

Admittedly it’s no easy job – assessing highly complex financial affairs and operations, dealing with highly strung corporate egos, not to mention the burden of job losses when things don’t work out.

But it is his role as administrator to ITV Digital that secured his place in Accountancy Age’s Financial Power List of 2003. In at number 17, Dargan’s influence had not gone unnoticed, even though you might have missed some of the intricacies of his game as they were lost in the melee that was the Enron saga.

As proposed liquidator for Railtrack Holdings, the appointment of which is imminent, there’s no doubt that his career is definitely on track.

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