IN A fresh move to take control of troubled coffee chain Caffe Nero, billionaire owners of Asda, Moshin and Zuber Issa, are in talks with Alcentra and Partners Group to purchase company loans worth £180 million.
The position would allow them to bid for control in a debt-for-equity swap if Caffè Nero was forced to restructure its borrowings, reported The Times.
The move would be in partnership with their EG Group’s private equity backer, TDR Capital.
Caffè Nero has a debt pile of £350m.
The news, first reported by The Sunday Telegraph, comes days after the billionaire brothers completed a £6.8 billion deal with TDR to buy supermarket chain Asda from US owner Walmart.
Issa brothers’ interest in Caffè Nero, which has 800 sites and employs 6,000 staff in the UK, emerged in December when it offered to buy the chain from its founder and main shareholder, Gerry Ford. The EG Group owns 6,000 petrol forecourts.
It came the day before landlords were due to vote on a company voluntary arrangement (CVA). The approach was rejected, and EG later hired the law firm CMS and property agents CWM to rally landlords against the CVA, in which landlords forfeited most outstanding rent payments.
According to The Times report, Nero termed the move as ‘nonsense’ as the EG is ‘trying to destabilise’ the situation again.