Robert Tchenguiz, Mitchells & Butlers' (M&B) largest shareholder, has sold his 25% stake in the pub group to billionaire investor Joe Lewis, according to reports this morning.
Lewis, a Bahamas-based tax exile with investments in companies including Ladbrokes and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, is understood to have bought 105 million shares at 130p, putting his investment at £137m, reports The Times.
The move has been highlighted as latest illustration of how the financial crisis in Iceland is having far-reaching repercussions for UK companies.
Although the stake is understood to belong to Tchenguiz, the actual seller was Iceland's Kaupthing, which was holding the shares as collateral on a loan it gave to the property tycoon in July, reports the Financial Times.
Unable to repay the loan, Tchenguiz was forced to liquidate his position to raise money last night, the newspaper says.
The sale of the stake brings to an end Tchenguiz's attempts to use his holding to unlock value from M&B's underlying assets.
The group lost senior directors and £274m in a botched hedge fund for a property joint-venture proposed by Tchenguiz earlier this year.
Mark Brumby, leisure analyst at Blue Oar Securities, said: "Whilst all of the facts are as yet unclear, this looks like tremendous news.
By Daniel Thomas
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