Two very rich men, two very different outcomes

Jo Francis
Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Jo Francis has been perusing the contrasting fortunes of a couple of print connections in the Sunday Times Rich List

Nowadays there really is no need for me to take such a keen interest in the fortunes of Sir John Madejski, but I can’t help keeping tabs on him for old time’s sake.

One doesn’t need to be a fan of Reading FC to know that Sir John’s finances, or lack thereof, have received rather a lot of coverage of late.

Take this BBC piece examining where his one-time £300m fortune went, including a shot of a Madejski money pit that now goes by the name of Polestar Bicester.

And over the weekend I learned via local news site Get Reading that HMRC is chasing Reading FC for a £1.6m payment and corporate recovery experts KRE are helping with the latest sale deal at the club.

I was, frankly, amazed that he still appears in the Sunday Times Rich List, just, albeit with a somewhat diminished fortune of a mere £90m. I’m also amazed it’s that much. As the ST puts it: “Setbacks in property and printing clip him.”

That’s something of an understatement given the estimated £100m that went down the gurgler at Goodhead.

Compare and contrast that with another Rich List entry with a print connection: Felix Dennis.

His £500m fortune dwarfs Madejski’s, but Felix’s generosity of spirit and cash in rescuing Butler & Tanner six years ago didn’t mean the firm could have unlimited access to his funds.

He’s picked up a tab of several million pounds during his ownership of the business and, now that the book printing side is to close, has even stumped up for the May wage bill.

Whether he was familiar with the Madejski/Goodhead saga I don’t know, but he’s certainly savyy enough to know that sometimes – sad though it is – it’s better to throw in the towel than carry on throwing money at a problem.

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