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SpinVox carcass laid bare in final accounts

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Dragon's Den TV star Julie Meyer described SpinVox as "the first major technology success story out of Europe", but the company's final accounts show a business running at a huge loss, spending heavily, and with interest payments alone exceeding income.

The accounts also show that CEO Christine Domecq repaid the company a six figure sum.

Speech giant Nuance acquired the controversial British company - which dominated the business pages last summer - shortly before Christmas in a stock deal.

Although its executives bravely talked of an IPO, SpinVox's liabilities far exceeded its assets. The company listed current liabilities of £124m, including trade and other payables of £59.6m and borrowings of £64.3m.

Yet SpinVox booked just £7.8m in revenue for the nine months year ending 30 September 2009, reporting a staggering loss of £56.49m. In the nine months ending 30 September 2008, accounts reveal, the company posted a £45.25m loss on income of just £2.97m.

The cost of doing business was high, with SpinVox buying customers. In June, the company announced a deal with Telefonica to provide text-to-speech voicemail in 13 Latin American countries.

The accounts refer to an "intangible asset of £22.2m, in respect of the right to provide its service to a customer". This was to be amortized over the term of the deal. But the accounts added that "since the contract is at an early stage of deployment, management consider it reasonably possible that the net revenue under the contract may be zero".

How did SpinVox keep going? In 2008 a share issue realised £51m. Last year the company took loans of £37.76m, defaulting on the Mezzanine, or bridging loan we reported here.

A dossier raising what the filing describes as "serious allegations", and sent to the board, was circulated last year. Most of the allegations have not been published for legal reasons.

The filings confirm the company covered Domecq for personal expenses, and these were not accounted for correctly.

"Bonuses were satisfied partly by the company meeting the costs of various personal expenses of Ms Domecq," according to the filing.

"PAYE was not deducted on bonuses declared... Following extensive review, net balance on this account was £126,000 owed to the Company... Domecq agreed to reimburse Spinvox £125,000 and revise certain of her employment terms."

Spinvox has also made provisions for late payment penalties.

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