Posts Tagged ‘Name Change’

Gilbert and Sullivan on Corporate Changes of Identity

February 25, 2014

Out with the old...: You can rest assured that the only change at Atos has been the company brand name.

Mike over at Vox Political has posted up a piece on Atos’ rebranding itself OH Assist. While Atos certainly are not bankrupt by any means, it does remind me of the way the managers of failing companies have tried to escape their creditors by going into liquidation, and then starting another company. Every so often, one of these companies, sometimes using a name little different from their predecessors, turns up on Watchdog or one of the other consumer interest programmes. This is, of course, perfectly legal, and so old that it was satirised by Gilbert and Sullivan in the libretto of a Company Promoter, written in 1893:

If you come to grief, and creditors are craving …
Do you suppose that signifies perdition?
If so you’re but a monetary dunce –
You merely file a Winding-Up Petition,
And start another company at once!
… the Liquidators say,
Never mind – you needn’t pay’,
So you start another company tomorrow.

Unfortunately, Atos certainly are still solvent, but the name change strikes me as tacit admission that they are well overdrawn at the moral bank. A number of other corporate giants have rebranded themselves after developing a bad reputation through their involvement in government policies. Anderson Consulting, the accountancy firm that was involved with successive governments’ reforms of the civil service from Major onwards, have changed their name. Atos’ relaunch seems to me a similar attempt to try to win back some corporate goodwill from the public, disguising the company’s nasty history and work behind the name change.

Just like a bankrupt businessman trying to stay one step ahead of their creditors, by using the commercial law to claim a different identity.