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Axium goes bust, EP responds

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As is being widely reported today, the Hollywood payroll company Axium is going toes up. Here’s a snippet from the LA Times story:

Hollywood payroll company Axium files for liquidation

By Kim Christensen and Andrea Chang

A top Hollywood payroll services company filed a liquidation bankruptcy action Tuesday, a day after it sent its employees home and told them not to come back to offices in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto and London.

Axium International Inc., based at 5800 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles, was one of three major companies that process payrolls for and provide related services to production companies, studios, trade unions and other industry clients.

The Chapter 7 petition, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles, shed little light on why the company suddenly went belly up, except to note that it “lacks sufficient liquidity or other resources” to meet its financial obligations.

Axium executives told employees in e-mail messages Monday and Tuesday that the company had fallen victim to a “liquidity crisis” that forced it to cease all operations, said Randy Klinenberg, who headed RightsMax, the company’s rights-management software unit.

Barring some revelations about misappropriated funds, say, one assumes this would one of the highest profile — the highest yet? — collapses due to the strike.

We’ll have updates as we get ’em, about the state of the other payroll companies, and the degree of bounced checks (BTL has been getting reports of Axium checks becoming heavily “rubberized” in the last couple of days) affecting ostensibly-functioning productions.

On which note, we’ll include this statement from Entertainment Partners, received while we were writing this blogpost:

Entertainment Partners Statement on Axium International

Burbank, CA – January 8, 2008 Entertainment Partners, the leading provider of payroll and production management solutions for the entertainment industry, issued a reassuring response to the industry today in light of the closing of entertainment payroll agency Axium.

“The unfortunate circumstances surrounding the closing of Axium apparently resulted from one company’s specific business issues and are in no way indicative of industry-wide factors,” notes Entertainment Partners President and Chief Executive Officer Markham L. Goldstein.

“The entertainment industry payroll companies are eager to do whatever we can to help mitigate the impact of this closure upon the production community. Our top priority right now is to lend assistance to production companies and their workers affected by this unfortunate incident and help them transition in order to keep productions up and running.”

So the hope is, then, that like the subprime disaster, the damage can be contained. But then, the fact we seem to be officially in a recession now, doesn’t help either. There’s no good time for a strike, really, but this may be an unusually bad one, given the other economic factors at play.

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