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Commodore goes titsup (again)

Creditors bankrupt the company

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Commodore International is close to folding. The Dutch company that owns the brand was declared bankrupt this week, but a spokesman said it will appeal the court order.

The original Commodore International, an American company best known for the legendary Commodore 64 computer in the 1980s, declared bankruptcy in 1994. However, the brand refused to die.

German retailer Escom paid $14m for Commodore International and the brand was then taken over by Tulip Computers in the Netherlands. In 2004, Tulip sold the Commodore name to another Dutch firm, Yeahronimo. In the past three years the company has tried to capitalise on the Commodore brand with new products such as joysticks, gaming and video players.

While Commodore is listed on the US over-the-counter market, most operations are carried out from the Netherlands. After disappointing sales of its ambitious Gravel line of personal media players, the firm shed many employees in recent months.

Unsurprisingly, Commodore expects its figures for FY 2007 to be substantially lower than previously estimated. Commodore is expected to announce a €10m loss at a shareholders' meeting in Amsterdam next Friday.

More trouble lies ahead. Former employees have threatened Commodore with a lawsuit to secure back-payments. And last month Commodore lost a court case against a former partner called Phillar. That company, which was to develop a navigation tool with Commodore, was poorly paid and says it will now seek €9m in damages.

At least three Dutch creditors are demanding an undisclosed sum from Commodore. They went to the bankruptcy court this week in an effort to recoup the debt. Commodore says it wasn't consulted when bankruptcy was filed and will seek a solution. Official receiver JJ Dingemans told The Register that if Commodore can pay its creditors, he will advise the court to lift Commodore's litigation.

Commodore claims its daily operations are not affected by the legal battle. Its branding company has no personnel. Other activities, such as gaming PCs, are run from different companies.

Tomorrow, a Commodore Day is held in the Netherlands, but to remember Commodore's golden past, not its recent demise. ®

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