Robert Tchenguiz to flog Welcome Break roadside services for £300m

The property tycoon is ditching the his motorway service stations apparently to raise some cash for his indebted company

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

It emerged today that a private equity group has popped up as the preferred bidder for nine Welcome Break outlets across the UK, after their owner, property tycoon Robert Tchenguiz, decided to try and free up some cash. His company, R20, has built up massive debts thanks to big losses in recent years, and thanks to an interest rate swap, the company’s debts are now hovering around the £300m mark. Perhaps R20’s bank, RBS, is getting anxious to see the money returned. 

So what happened to make Tchenguiz’s house of cards start wobbling? Well, he spent a good portion of the noughties building up a property empire on the back of big debts extended to him by the bank. The chunk that RBS lent him was to fund a £270m acquisition of the motorway services portfolio back in 2006. This was before the global financial crisis, and now things aren’t looking as rosy. Banks certainly aren’t lending to many people to go on debt-fuelled growth binges in property.

The private equity group, US outfit M3 Capital Partners, already has Europe’s largest roadside services site, one 35,000 square foot monster at Cobham Services near London. The FT has also reported that M3 beat off competitors Telereal Trillium to get its hands on the new properties. Acquisition of the Welcome Breaks is expected to go through within about two months, so either this has been in the pipeline for a while, or Tchenguiz is very keen to free up that £300m.

Until October this year, Tchenguiz and his brother were being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office in a high profile probe into the collapse of Icelandic bank, Kaupthing. Both brothers had borrowed money from the bank. But the investigation was dropped in October with the SFO admitting that it had ‘insufficient evidence to justify’ continuing the probe. 

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Upcoming Events

Latest on MT

Why working mothers are screwed

Why working mothers are screwed

Working mums are paying a 'motherhood penalty', missing out on pay rises and promotions.

Virgin Trains and Jeremy Corbyn engulfed in bizarre spin war

Virgin Trains and Jeremy Corbyn engulfed in bizarre spin war

Attacking a politician is risky business.

How to stop your business getting too big for you

How to stop your business getting too big for you

Doubling your team overnight might sound like a start-up's dream, but it can very quickly turn into a nightmare if you're not careful, says digital marketing entrepreneur Guy Levine.

Aldi and Lidl's growth story is far from over

Aldi and Lidl's growth story is far from over

UPDATE: The discounters continue to expand market share, but there's a glimmer of hope for Tesco. Asda not so much.

Why your business should consider ditching bonuses

Why your business should consider ditching bonuses

Star fund manager Neil Woodford is getting rid of bonuses, claiming they can cause the wrong kind of behaviour.

Britain's Olympic success is a triumph of ruthless professionalism

Britain's Olympic success is a triumph of ruthless professionalism

EDITOR'S BLOG: The romantic stories of Daley Thompson and Steve Ovett wouldn't get a look-in today.