Sunday newspaper round-up: Wilko, Telegraph Media, Pizza Hut…

by | Aug 27, 2023

(Sharecast News) – Wilko’s administrators are facing pressure to accept a rescue deal for the ailing budget retailer after a second last-minute white knight bid worth £90m emerged from an Anglo-Canadian private equity firm. […] Shops are expected to close within weeks, with thousands of job losses unless a buyout can be secured. M2 Capital, a restructuring specialist which owns a string of upmarket hotels around the world under the Como brand and is in the process of buying Michigan-based car parts maker Superior Industries, is understood to have put forward a bid that would keep the entire Wilko chain trading. – The Guardian
The Barclay family have tabled a bid to regain control of Telegraph Media Group from Lloyds Banking Group. The former owners of the newspaper group, comprising the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph and, have secured backing from Middle Eastern investors to buy back roughly half the debt it owes Lloyds, Sky News reported. The unnamed backers are said to be based in Abu Dhabi, while the offer is believed to be in the region of £500m to £600m. This would mark a significant writeback for Lloyds, which wrote down the value of its loans to the family several years ago. – The Telegraph

Pizza Hut’s UK restaurant business has plunged into a debt crisis as it grapples with the fallout from soaring inflation. The US giant’s biggest British franchise, with more than 4,000 workers in 152 outlets, is locked in tense negotiations to refinance tens of millions of pounds due to be repaid to lenders in April. Bosses have been forced to seek revised terms on its debt this year as soaring prices pushed the company further into losses in 2022, despite benefiting from the relaxation of Covid restrictions. – The Sunday Times

Iceland has been accused of transferring “significant” sums of money from its Irish subsidiary’s accounts in the run-up to a sale of the division earlier this year. Metron Stores, the owner of Iceland stores in the Republic of Ireland, has written to Iceland’s chief executive, Richard Walker, with “concerns around several transactions” that took place in the lead up to its acquisition in February. The letter claims more than €1.6m (£1.37m) was transferred out of the business’s accounts in the lead up to the deal, as well as around €900,000 in revenues from its stores in the week between the deal being signed and its completion. – The Telegraph

Exasperated shareholders in Home REIT have approved a change to the firm’s investment policy that effectively abandons its focus on providing housing for vulnerable people. The company has also admitted that Knight Frank, the real estate firm which performed the initial valuation of its portfolio, had quit in May because it couldn’t stand behind its own figures. The ongoing farce has sparked calls for the FCA, the City regulator, to join the officials and law firms investigating Home REIT to see if it misled investors – or at least to delist its still-suspended shares from the stock market. But so far the regulator is keeping quiet, telling Whispers it is ‘not able to comment either way’ on whether it will launch a probe into the matter. – Mail on Sunday

Rishi Sunak faces a new conflict of interest row before a G20 summit in New Delhi next month over claims that his family could stand to benefit financially from a post-Brexit trade deal that he is negotiating with India. MPs and trade experts say there are concerns at the highest levels of government over potential “transparency” issues relating to his wife Akshata Murty’s shareholding – worth almost £500m – in the massive Bengaluru-based international IT services and consultancy company Infosys. – The Observer

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