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Engineering consultant calls in administrators

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Engineering, building and disaster response consultant Censeo has been put into administration, with CEO Kate Middleton attributing the company’s demise to “legacy debt”.

Censeo’s website says it has been on the supplier panels of Australia’s “largest insurers and builders” for more than a decade, “with many exclusively using Censeo in some states”.

But history – in the form of inherited debt – dogged the company.

Censeo was set up in 2005 and was acquired in 2011 by loss adjuster Cerno, which had been formed from the merger of the Australian business of McLarens Young International and Freemans Australia.

Burdened with an unwieldy ownership structure and associated debt, Cerno was forced to merge in 2015 with listed claims management company Stream Group.

Stream’s Australian operations were placed into liquidation early the following year, but Censeo survived thanks to a re-privatisation through a management buyout.

Ms Middleton told insuranceNEWS.com.au that calling in the administrators was a “sad and unforeseen outcome”.

“My team and I are heartbroken for all affected,” she said. “We have gained so much incredible traction over the past 12 months in particular, having successfully diversified into other sectors outside of insurance.

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how strong your pipeline is and how collaborative your client relationships are – when a left-field legacy issue hits, your time is up.

“Ultimately, we were plagued by a legacy debt related back to Stream, which meant Censeo was never fully set up for success. It has been a hard lesson, but I am proud of what we built.

“For now, I’m working closely with clients, staff, suppliers and the administrator to ensure as smooth a transition for all parties as possible given the circumstances.”

Christopher Baskerville and Marcus Watters from Brisbane-based Jirsch Sutherland have been appointed joint administrators.

The first meeting of creditors was in Sydney last week.