Securitisation wipes £60m in bank fees from M&B sale – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

03 March 2008 by
Securitisation wipes £60m in bank fees from M&B sale – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

Securitisation wipes £60m in bank fees from M&B sale
The securitisation of Mitchells & Butlers' estimated £2.9b of bank debt will slash more than £60m in bank fees from the anticipated £2.5b sale of the managed pub operator, opening the way for a takeover by a private equity firm. M&B's debts are securitised against its properties and so does not carry the same change-of-ownership rules as other listed companies, whose debts have to be refinanced after a sale, attracting fees of around 2% of the total refinanced. A leading leisure analyst said this £60m saving will help private equity buyers finance a deal. Private equity bidders include Blackstone/CVC and Cinven, while the leading trade contender, Punch TavernsThe Independent](, 2 March

Gordon Ramsay tried to buy the New Angel at a knock-down price
Celebrity chef John Burton Race has revealed that Gordon Ramsay tried to buy his restaurant, the New Angel in Devon, for a bargain price - after his ex-wife Kim closed it while he was in the jungle in I'm A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! and sacked the restaurant's 20 staff to fund their £3.6m divorce. Burton, who was believed to owe creditors almost £1m, staved off financial ruin after gaining financial support from entrepreneur Clive Jacobs. He revealed that Ramsay had put in a bid for the New Angel, which was worth £1.3m, but he had rejected it. - The Mail on Sunday, 2 March

E-menus coming to London in three months A new wireless computer system that allows diners to view and order their dishes using touchscreens on their tables is set to hit the UK capital following trials in France, Belgium and South Africa. The system, called e-menu, made its debut in Israel last year. Conceptic, the Tel Aviv-based company that developed the system, says it reduces wait times and boosts average spend because diners can see pictures of the meals on screen before ordering. The system, which links each table's screen to a central computer, enables diners to contact waiters instantly with orders or complaints, or send instant messages to other tables in the restaurant. The screen automatically refreshes during the main course to display the dessert menu and includes children's games and a quiz to occupy guests as they wait for their food. Daniel Cohen, the chairman of Conceptic, was in London last week looking for offices and partners. He hopes to be in business in the capital within three months with a chain restaurant. - [The Sunday Times](, 2 March 2008

Rentokil Initial expected to announce a break-up
Analysts are predicting the break-up of pest control specialist Rentokil Initial - which owns the Initial catering business - after last week's profit warning wiped nearly one-quarter off the company's share value and prompted the announcement of the retirement of chairman Brian McGowan in May. Leading shareholders are now demanding the resignation of Doug Flynn, chief executive since 2005. Flynn, who will be fighting for his survival alongside finance director Andrew Macfarlane, will unveil a strategy to rebuild the share price at a series of institutional meetings starting next week that could include a break-up. The company's shares have almost halved in the past three months and pre-tax profits fell to £142m last year compared with £165m in 2006. On Friday the company's shares closed down 24.5 at 80.5p following a 52-week high of 186p. - The Sunday Telegraph, 2 March

Supermarkets to 'collude' in alcohol price rises
Ministers are planning to allow supermarkets to collude in alcohol price rises to help stem binge-drinking. Proposed amendments to the licensing laws will release them from competition rules that impose stiff penalties for price collusion. The cost of alcohol in shops has halved in real terms in 20 years, while shop sales have grown to £13b, from £6.4b in 1996, and alcohol-related deaths have more than doubled since 1991 to more than 8,700 a week. Figures suggest a third of men and a fifth of women drink more than the recommended levels each week. "There is no doubt that the growth in harmful consumption of alcohol is being driven by off-licence, not on-licence trade," said Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians. "Even those who are apparently getting drunk in pubs and clubs have usually been drinking heavily discounted drinks from off-licences and supermarkets before going out." - [The Guardian](, 1 March

By Angela Frewin

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