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De Vere owner denies debt-for-equity swap rumours

18 August 2009 by
De Vere owner denies debt-for-equity swap rumours

Richard Balfour-Lynn, chief executive of the Alternative Hotel Group (AHG), has categorically denied claims that Lloyds Banking Group is looking to effect a huge debt-for-equity swap.

A report in the Sunday Times suggested the group, which owns hotel chain De Vere and contract caterer Searcy, was in talks to restructure its £1.4b debt pile, after Lloyds TSB appointed Deloitte to carry out an independent review of the business.

The paper also claimed that AHG was unable to meet its debt terms, and that Balfour-Lynn was reluctant to put more money into the business.

But speaking exclusively to Caterersearch, Balfour-Lynn said the reports were "highly speculative and inaccurate".

"The only fact in the piece was that Deloitte has been appointed to review a number of HBOS loans," he said. "At no time has the bank said it would perform a write down of assets and at no time have we said we wouldn't put in more money."

AHG acquired De Vere when Balfour-Lynn took the business private in 2006 for just over £1b. The AHG deal is one of a number of agreements Lloyds inherited when it acquired HBOS which racked up £10b of bad-debt charges in the first six months of the year.

De Vere owner AHG in debt talks with bankers >>

Interview: Richard Balfour-Lynn on De Vere, Malmaison and Searcys >>

Alternative Hotel Group closes De Vere HQ >>

AHG gets clearance for De Vere takeover >>

By Gemma Sharkey

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