News photo agency Sipa Press has filed for bankruptcy in Paris, following the bankruptcy of its parent company in Germany in October. The fate of the photo agency–including the possibility of liquidation–will be decided by a French court on December 6, according to Le Journal de la Photographie.
Sipa, which was founded in 1973 and is currently the French distributor for Associated Press, Rex Features and other international agencies, was acquired in July 2011 by DAPD, a German media company. DAPD was established in 2010 with ambitions to compete against more established news services in France and Germany. In addition to the Sipa Press acquisition, DAPD had launched two other companies–Sipa News, a wire service providing both news reports and photos, and French Language Service (FLS), a French-language wire service staffed by journalists formerly with Associated Press in France.
But DAPD ran out of money, and declared bankruptcy in Berlin on October 2. DAPD was one of eight subsidiaries of a larger holding company– HQTA AG–that ran short of cash and declared bankruptcy at the same time. Three hundred employees were affected. The German government has stepped in to pay their salaries, and HQTA says it will lay off 100 employees by December 1.
Meanwhile, the bankruptcy of DAPD left Sipa Press, Sipa News and FLS without enough money to operate, forcing DAPD’s representative in France to declare bankruptcy on behalf of the Sipa group and its owners, according to the report in Le Journal de Photographie. The 127 employees of the three companies have been told their November salaries will be cut in half, and paid in mid-December.
Le Journal de Photographie speculates that Sipa Press will be put under receivership (court-appointed management) and reorganized, while Sipa News is likely to be liquidated.
Sipa Press was launched in 1973 by Goksin Sipahioglu. Along with Gamma and Sygma, it was part of a triumvirate of once-legendary French picture agencies. But all three agencies fell on hard times during the 1990s because of changing technology and markets. Sygma was acquired by Corbis, but was eventually liquidated. Gamma merged with Rapho, another French photo agency, and is now part of an consortium called Eyedea, which was rescued from bankruptcy in 2010.