The bidding war for troubled startup Unilad will likely start next Friday, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
The Manchester-based media company has had to consider a sale after a High Court judge ruled in May that ousted founder Alex Partridge is still entitled to a 33% stake.
Unilad’s current management is expected to share the company’s latest financials with Partridge and his lawyers next Friday, providing them with a rough idea of how much Unilad is worth at the same time.
An official independent valuation for Unilad will be declared on September 22 but Partridge’s lawyer, Steven Judge, told Business Insider that interested parties would be wise to get their bids in to him from next Friday onwards.
One interested buyer told Business Insider that Unilad is likely to be valued at “north of £20 million,” adding that the figure could easily rise to between £30 million and £40 million.
Unilad has become well-known for sharing entertaining and sometimes controversial content through its Facebook pages and its website. Unilad has 28 million followers on Facebook and the majority of UK university students are familiar with the brand.
It’s possible that Unilad’s current management, directors Liam Harrington and Sam Bentley, will find a way to pay Partridge his third without having to sell the company. It would likely involve tapping up private investors, but it’s unclear how easy this would be for them. In theory, it’s also possible that Partridge could buy out Harrington and Bentley.
Partridge was unfairly excluded from Unilad in 2013 by co-CEOs Sam Bentley and Liam Harrington, according to His Honour Judge Gerald. Unilad said in June that it planned to appeal the court ruling.
At the time, a spokesperson for Unilad told Business Insider: “We’re not the first media tech company to have been involved in a legal dispute like this, and while we’re surprised and disappointed by the County Court decision, we will continue to develop the creative direction of the Unilad brand, delivering incredible content which our audience loves to watch and share.
“We’re looking to appeal the judgment, which we believe is flawed, therefore we cannot comment in detail about the case.”
Unilad did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.